| 7.9°C Belfast

Women at BBC NI hold less than a third of best paid jobs


BBC NI journalist Wendy Austin

BBC NI journalist Wendy Austin

Director general Peter Johnston

Director general Peter Johnston

Ex-China editor Carrie Gracie

Ex-China editor Carrie Gracie

BBC NI journalist Wendy Austin

Women hold less than one-third of the highest paid jobs at BBC Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

The disclosure comes as the organisation finds itself under continuing pressure to address wage inequality.

A Freedom of Information request showed that of the 10 staff in the top salary bands — ‘SM1&2’ for senior management — seven are men and three are women.

In the next band, where salaries range from £40,000 to £70,000 — 29 full-time equivalent positions are held by men and 12 by women.

In both cases, it is a lower proportion than the 41% across the BBC as a whole.

The figures were obtained by the Irish News.

The figures also revealed that women are under-represented in various levels and pay bands compared to the BBC overall.

The Irish News found that out of the 700 people employed by BBC NI, 44% are women, which is below the BBC’s overall average of 48% and is lower than any other region in the UK.

A BBC NI spokesman told the newspaper: “BBC Northern Ireland will play its part in helping the wider BBC achieve its targets.”

Details of the broadcaster’s gender pay gap sparked major criticism last year after the BBC revealed salaries of stars earning more than £150,000.

Most recently the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie resigned claiming “unlawful pay discrimination”. She made the decision after she learned male international editors are paid at least 50% more than women doing the same job.

Up to 200 women have filed pay complaints since the publication of staff salaries was made public last year.

Veteran NI presenter Wendy Austin was among 40 high-profile journalists who signed a letter sent to BBC director general Tony Hall last summer.

She also joined numerous other BBC NI colleagues during a campaign on “equal pay day” in November.

The head of BBC NI director Peter Johnston earns a salary of £146,000.

The figures come after broadcaster and presenter Libby Purves said the gender pay gap exists because men are being “vain and greedy”.

The former presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Midweek said that the director general (DG) should not be afraid of a talent drain in seeking to end pay disparity.

Writing in the Radio Times, she said: “Some complain that the pay gap exists because women don’t negotiate. I would say that it’s more about men being vain and greedy.

“With few exceptions (mainly in the shiny-floor-and-spangles world, inhabited by, for example, Claudia Winkleman) it’s men who drive pay to insane levels.

“It’s men, not women, who flick their carefully tended hair and purr, like a L’Oreal ad, ‘Because I’m worth it!’.”

Ms Purves said she accepts the BBC has a problem with inherited contracts but called for Lord Tony Hall to spend a week reading the BBC’s payroll and noting the gender inequality.

“The DG could then weigh the importance of the top earners and tell their agents that their next contract will shrink, because the BBC must budget carefully and equably,” she added.

“If they threatened to go, the DG could gently say, ‘If you must. But remember how much of your ratings depends on our Rolls-Royce production values and international reach. We’ll build another you’.”

Branding the BBC’s wounds from the pay gap “self-harm”, she said she believes there are many highly-paid employees, including Today presenter John Humphrys, who would do their job for lower pay.

Belfast Telegraph