ReutersLONDON (Reuters) — The BBC’s China Editor Carrie Gracie has quit her post in Beijing to fight for her right to pay equality with male peers, posting an attack on what she called the “secretive and illegal BBC pay culture.”
Gracie’s revolt is part of the fallout from pay disclosures the British broadcaster was forced to make last July, which showed that two-thirds of the highest earners on air were men, and that some of them were earning far more than women in equivalent roles.
Funded by a licence fee levied on TV viewers and reaching 95 percent of British adults every week, the BBC is a pillar of the nation’s life, but as such it is closely scrutinized and held to exacting standards by the public and rival media.
Gracie’s stand was one of the top news headlines of the day on the BBC itself and on other British media, and many prominent women from the BBC and beyond voiced their support on social media under the slogan #IStandWithCarrie.
Gracie, who speaks fluent Mandarin and has reported on China for three decades, has not left the BBC. She said she was returning to her former post in the TV newsroom in London where she expected to be paid equally to men in equal jobs.
“I am not asking for more money. I believe I am very well paid already — especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation. I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally,” she wrote on her website.
Gracie said she was paid £135,000 ($182,800) a year as China editor.
According to last July’s disclosures, North America Editor Jon Sopel earned between £200,000 and £250,000 a year, while Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen was in the £150,000 to £200,000 bracket.
Europe editor Katya Adler, the BBC’s only other female editor in foreign news, did not feature in the disclosures, meaning her pay was less than £150,000.
Gracie said managers had offered to increase her pay to £180,000, but that was no solution. She rejected the rise and insisted that all four of the BBC’s international editors should receive equal pay. “I was not interested in more money. I was interested in equality,” she said during an interview on BBC radio.
Britain enacted legislation outlawing sex discrimination in the 1970s and this was followed by an equality act in 2010, but women still earn less than men across much of the economy.
The BBC defended itself by saying its gender pay gap was below the national average and less bad than at many other organizations, adding that it was committed to wiping it out by 2020. It also said an independent audit of rank and file staff had found “no systemic discrimination against women” at the BBC.Speech