BBC Reveals 9 Percent Gender Pay Gap, Finds "No Systemic Discrimination"

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The U.K. public broadcaster says its gap compares with the national U.K. average of 18.1 percent.

The BBC on Wednesday published a number of documents on the gender pay gap at the U.K. public broadcaster, which found a gap of more than 9 percent. 

Its equal pay report concluded that there was no "systemic gender discrimination" in the way it pays its staff. The audit was overseen by Patrick Elias, a former Court of Appeal judge, and conducted by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and legal firm Eversheds.

The BBC’s audited gender pay gap is 9.3 percent for its rank and file staff, compared with a national U.K. average of 18.1 percent. Including Northern Ireland, the BBC gap rises to 9.6 percent. The BBC also voluntarily audited its pay gap among minorities, which it found to be "significantly lower at 0.4 percent."

The BBC commissioned the equal pay audit of its staff, focused mostly on "those who are not senior managers, on-air editors, presenters or correspondents," to determine whether there are any systemic issues in how it pays men and women. A separate review into the BBC’s approach to on-air presenters, editors and correspondents, who are on different types of contracts, will be concluded by the end of the year. 

The BBC previously faced a backlash from female on-air talent after it emerged that only a third of its 96 top earners were women. It reiterated its goal of closing the gender pay gap by 2020.

"The conclusion in the report that there is no systemic discrimination against women in the BBC’s pay arrangements for these staff is, in my judgment, amply borne out by the statistical evidence and is further supported by the analysis of particular cases carried out by Eversheds," Elias said.

"This will also be part of a much broader piece of work looking at how the BBC addresses issues related to the list of talent paid more than £150,000 ($200,000) so that it is more representative of the audiences it serves," it said.

All organizations with more than 250 employees are by U.K. regulations required to publish a gender pay gap report by April 2018. 

"The BBC is not complacent and today’s management response sets out a range of actions we are taking as we strive to be best in class on fair pay," the BBC said. "These include improving transparency on how pay is set, access for staff to specialist advice if people have questions about pay, ensuring managers review pay in their team every six months to ensure fairness, and ending single-sex panels for job interviews, as well as striving for diverse shortlists for jobs."

Said BBC director general Tony Hall: “Fairness in pay is vital. We have pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020 and have targets for equality and diversity on our airwaves. We have done a lot already, but we have more to do."

He added: “While today’s reports show that we are in a better place than many organizations, I want a BBC that is an exemplar not just in the media but in the country — when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation — and what can be achieved. This is an essential part of modernizing the BBC. And, if the BBC is to truly reflect the public it serves, then the makeup of our staff must reflect them."