The Gender Pay Gap – why the resignation of the BBC’s China editor matters…by Catriona Cookson

It’s the first week in January and the gender pay gap is back in the news. With over 500 firms reporting their figures in advance of the April deadline, some of the figures look startling but can be explained by the variation of roles held by men and women. For example, the difference at Easy Jet is 52%, largely due to the fact that most of the pilots are men.

However, the recent resignation of the BBC’s China editor over the discrepancy in her salary is very different. In her open letter published here she sets out the facts which everyone should read. As you would expect from a respected journalist it is a well written letter which includes the following:

“In the past four years, the BBC has had four international editors – two men and two women. The Equality Act 2010 states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay. But last July I learned that in the previous financial year, the two men earned at least 50% more than the two women”.

There can be no justification for this but the following is just as disturbing. As ever, there will often be people who are afraid to speak and pursue their claim for fear of the repercussions :

“We have felt trapped. Speaking out carries the risk of disciplinary measures or even dismissal; litigation can destroy careers and be financially ruinous. What’s more the BBC often settles cases out of court and demands non-disclosure agreements, a habit unworthy of an organisation committed to truth, and one which does nothing to resolve the systemic problem.”

While the spotlight is clearly on the BBC over this, it can’t be the only organisation in a similar position. Others would do well to ensure their house is in order in the coming months.

Finally, there is much validity in the closing comments of Carrie Gracie’s letter:

“I don’t want their generation to have to fight this battle in the future because my generation failed to win it now”

We all have a responsibility to ensure the gender pay gap must end.

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