The importance of transparent pay structures

“Discriminatory” pay practices at the BBC 

A group of MPs who form The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee recently found that the BBC failed to ensure women were given the same opportunities as men, with many earning far less than their male colleagues.

The inquiry into BBC pay found that “opaque” pay structures meant staff could not see how their salaries compared with others’ and that “ad-hoc” personality-led pay decisions allowed inequalities to develop. As a result, while the BBC had made some progress in improving the gender balance, the 10 top earners are all men. Committee chair Damian Collins said that “The BBC acts as a beacon in public life. As an employer it has an even higher level of duty than others to advance equality of opportunity but this it has failed to do.”  He added that “The BBC must take urgent action now if it’s to restore its reputation on equal pay and win back the trust of staff. There must be a reduction in the time taken to resolve grievances.”

Avoiding the issues

The committee also found the broadcaster used terms such as “fair pay” and pay “revisions” rather than talking about “equal pay”, in an attempt to avoid the issue and criticised the way grievances were handled by the BBC, hearing evidence of managers failing to disclose the named comparators in equal pay complaints.

Other recommendations put forward by the committee include:

·         Ensuring staff at all levels can compare male and female pay;

·         Appointing independent managers to investigate pay grievances; and

·         Publication of a report on the steps taken to resolve pay discrimination; ·

In response to the findings a spokesperson from the BBC said: “While we still have more to do, much of this report is already out of date. Recent disclosures by other media organisations show that the BBC’s gender pay gap is among the smallest and well below the national average.”

Issues at the BBC criticised by the committee are common within many organisations. If you require any advice on Gender Pay Gap reporting please send an email to or call us on 01273 834120. We will also be covering all aspects of Pay Reporting and why it matters at our Employment Law Latest seminars this autumn. The seminars start in Sussex on 24th October then run in London and Surrey in November.  Further information on our current series of seminars can be found here


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