Former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie has revealed how she has turned down £100,000 in ‘back pay’ from the Corporation – as she accused BBC bosses of treating women who speak out about pay as ‘the enemy’.
Ms Gracie, who resigned from her role in early January in protest at inequalities, appeared today before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
A number of female BBC presenters, including Kate Adie, Mariella Frostrup, Kate Silverton, Louise Minchin and Naga Munchetty, were in Westminster to support Gracie.
She accused the Corporation of ‘throwing money at me’ to resolve the problem.
She has refused to accept it, saying: ‘My problem will be resolved by an acknowledgement my work was of equal value to the men I served alongside.’
Fighting back tears, the 55-year-old added: ‘I didn’t ask for pay rises, I only asked for equality. All I want is for them to say ‘your work in China was equal to your male peers’.
‘This is damaging the credibility of the BBC in a completely unacceptable way.’
The long-time BBC employee said the reason she was given for being paid less than male counterparts was that she was ‘in development’.
A review, commissioned by the BBC and published yesterday, found there was ‘no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making’.
Former BBC China editor Carrie Gracies said the reason she was given for being paid less than male counterparts was that she was ‘in development’ – despite having worked at the Beeb for more than 30 years
Former and present female BBC television and radio presenters including Kate Silverton, (right), Kate Adie (second right), Mariella Frostrup (third right), Louise Minchin (centre left) and Naga Munchetty show their support for Carrie Gracie today
Former and present female BBC television and radio presenters show solidarity with the ex-China editor today
Ms Gracie told MPs how she took her post as China editor in 2013 despite the fact it was a difficult time as her children were taking their A-Levels.
She was persuaded after (the then head of news) James Harding ‘got down on a bended knee’ and begged her to take the role.
She told the committee: ‘The BBC was very concerned to put more senior women and older women on-air.
‘I could see their point. I thought we did need more senior and older women (on-air) in senior roles.’
She said: ‘I said at the time that I had to be paid equally. I knew that we had been underpaid by comparison to male peers, not absolutely.
‘But we knew there was inequality. We didn’t know the details because the BBC is extremely secretive on pay.
‘I knew I’d give the China job every last ounce of my skin and stamina. I knew I would do that job at least as good as any man and there was no other man, there was no other candidate.’
Ms Gracie said: ‘I am not a fiscal liability – I have said I don’t want more money – they are trying to throw money at me to resolve the problem’
Grievance hearing was a ‘disgraceful nine pages of errors and spin’
Describing her grievance hearing Ms Gracie said it was a ‘disgraceful nine pages of errors and spin’.
She added: ‘I couldn’t have been more disappointed. I would class that as my worst day in the BBC.
‘I couldn’t believe that after 30 years of trying to uphold BBC editorial standards, of never being challenged on accuracy in China in four years despite one can imagine the armies of people trying to take me down there, I really cared about editorial standards.’
Ms Gracie continued: ‘To be spun and filled with errors in an account of my own grievance hearing in the first complaint I ever made at the BBC, was unacceptable.
‘That was the point I realised we are really in trouble and I have to do something to make this machine change course.
‘So first I went to bed for two days and thought ‘I can’t do it, this is too big’.
‘I was so distraught by what had happened but then I thought ‘No, I have to fight.’
‘So that is the point I decided to resign my post in protest at the way the BBC was handling my case and the cases of many other women and the way the BBC was discriminating against all the women.’
She continued: ‘I insisted on equal pay. I thought I had won a commitment to pay parity when I set off to China which is why I got such a shock’ (when BBC salaries were revealed in July) and I found out two men who were international editors were being paid more.’
Ms Gracie said she had been saddened by comparisons between her and her male counterparts.
She told the committee: ‘I would like to put on record that I admire the work of my male peers as international editors.
‘What I want to talk about more is the sense in which my case is just an example of a bigger problem.
‘I was a senior person who they really wanted to keep in position…if the BBC can’t sort it out for me, then how can it sort it out for more vulnerable people who don’t have a public profile.’
Ms Gracie was earning £135,000 before the BBC offered her a £45,000 rise, which she rejected.
She said she had received the results of her grievance last week (on day 89 of 90) and the BBC had said it had inadvertently underpaid her since 2014.
She said the BBC had said they would pay her almost £100,000 in ‘back pay’.
‘I said I don’t want that money’, she said. ‘I feel my salary is a good salary, it’s public money. They’re still not giving me equality, they’re not giving me parity or the benchmark which would allow me to judge that it’s a robust payment system.’
The long-time BBC employee explained: ‘The thing that is very unacceptable to me is they have basically said in the previous years 2014, 2015, 2016, I was in development.
‘It is an insult to add to the original injury. It is unacceptable to talk to your senior women like that. I would have never agreed to China on those terms.’
She added: ‘I was for four years leading our China coverage, there are significant risks in our China coverage, I dealt with them. I did a good job.’
Radio and television presenter Mariella Frostrup (right) shows her support for Ms Gracie today
Ms Gracie was told she was ‘in development’
Ms Gracie has said the reason she was given for being paid less than male counterparts was that she was ‘in development’ – despite having worked at the BBC for more than 30 years.
She said: ‘It is an insult to add to the original injury. It is unacceptable to talk to your senior women like that.’
She told the MPs: ‘But the thing that’s very unacceptable to me… it [the BBC] basically said in those three previous years – 2014, 2015 and 2016 – I was ‘in development’.’
She added: ‘I would never have gone to China on those terms. I asked for equal pay at the very beginning.’
Ms Gracie said she spent 214 days in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan last year, countering reports she’d been ‘part time’ and there for 100 days.
She insisted: ‘I said I’m not part-time, I work so hard.’
Ms Gracie continued: ‘I’m getting emotional but the thing is, what I really want to say about the equal pay problem at the BBC, is that it forced the BBC to retrofit justifications of the indispensable.
‘It’s not acceptable to say that because you have an equal pay problem, but you can’t admit it because you don’t want to confront what may be fiscal liabilities, which we all agree they are there.
‘I am not a fiscal liability, I have said I don’t want any more money.
‘They are trying to throw money at me to resolve the problem…this will not resolve my problem.
Ms Gracie said the ‘BBC management need to stop treating us as some kind of enemy’
Ms Gracie’s attack on BBC Director of News
Referring to ‘misinformation appearing in sections of the media’ recently, Ms Gracie said it was ‘very upsetting’ to hear from a journalist at a Sunday newspaper that ‘trusted sources at the BBC’ had said she was part-time.
She said: ‘I said I’m not part-time, I work so hard.’
Ms Gracie said that she was ‘also very upset in mid-November before my grievance hearing when a former member of staff told me that the current director of news, who is the most senior woman in BBC news, had given him the impression that I was part-time.
‘He was at an alumni event that (Fran Unsworth) was at the day after the pay disclosures, and he told me he had asked her why myself and the Europe editor were not on the high pay list, and he said, as reported by him, ‘I don’t understand why they’re not on the list, Carrie Gracie and Katya Adler work so hard, why wouldn’t they be on the list?’
‘And he said that Fran’s answer was that I was part-time.’
Ms Gracie said she has raised it with Unsworth and she had said it was a ‘misunderstanding’.
She said: ‘As the senior woman at the BBC News, I would expect her to stand up for her senior women journalists. I work so hard, it’s been so tough.’
‘My problem will be resolved by an acknowledgement my work was of equal value to the men I served alongside. An apology would be nice.’
She added: ‘Some day it would be nice if BBC could bring itself to say women, too, are good broadcasters and journalists but because its in this awful situation of not accepting an equal pay problem, it has to belittle us.
‘It makes me angry, it makes me disappointed, and desperately anxious for the future of the BBC.
‘If we’re not truth tellers, who are we? We’re no better than the next news source.
‘The BBC lives or dies by its reputation for telling the truth without fear of favour, that is what we go out and do every day and that is what our bosses should do.’
Describing the Corporation as having a ‘toxic work atmosphere’, she added: ‘It is going to get worse, we have women leaving, the credibility of management is diminished and damaged and they will lose in employment tribunals.
‘They are stumbling towards a Greek tragedy where they make happen their own worse fears. They need to stop now, pull up and trust their staff.’
Ms Gracie is returning to a job in the BBC newsroom.
She explained: ‘I could leave the BBC tomorrow and get a better paid job. I don’t want to leave it in this state. It is in deep trouble and we need to sort it out and I need to be there alongside the other great BBC women, helping the BBC to sort it out.’
She added that ‘BBC management need to stop treating us as some kind of enemy. Trust is broken between a lot of women involved and management.’
As Ms Gracie spoke, former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman tweeted: ‘Heartfelt, compelling words from @BBCCarrie at @CommonsCMS select committee.
BBC director-general Tony Hall has told MPs that he holds Gracie in ‘the greatest regard’ and added he admires the stand she has taken on pay
EQUALITIES WATCHDOG ‘LOOKING SERIOUSLY’ AT CONCERNS OF BBC WOMEN
The watchdog said that it would be meeting the group, whose members include presenters Jane Garvey, Mishal Husain and Victoria Derbyshire, to discuss the issues ‘in more detail’.
It previously wrote to the BBC over its former China editor Carrie Gracie and said it had now received a response from the broadcaster.
‘We received a response from the BBC yesterday and are now in the process of analysing it before we take any further action,’ a spokeswoman said about Gracie, in a statement to the Press Association.
She said: ‘We are also looking seriously at the concerns of BBC Women and will soon be meeting the group to discuss them in more detail.’
‘Thank you Carrie for speaking so clearly about pay injustice. Will spur change not just BBC but for all women at work.’
The Women’s Equality Party tweeted: ‘The BBC told Carrie Gracie they had ‘inadvertantly’ underpaid her for several years and offered her about £100,000 in back pay. When will the BBC finally admit it has a problem with unequal pay, rather than ‘pay unfairness’ or ‘anomalies’ or ‘inadvertantly’ underpaying women?’
Ms Gracie said she made an impassioned plea to Lord Hall.
She said: ‘I told him ‘You have to show courage, you have to show leadership on this issue, you have to be brave’.
‘We are still waiting for courage and we must have it.’
Speaking to the committee Director General Tony Hall said: ‘I hold Carrie in the greatest regard, I was lucky enough to spend some time with her in Beijing, she’s done first rate work for the BBC.
‘I also admire the stance she’s taken on this, it takes courage to speak out against the Corporation.’
However he said: ‘There are differences in the amount of work and the range of work (between international editors) – there is a difference in the scope and scale of those jobs.’
The long-running debate about salary inequality at the BBC has dogged the broadcaster since last summer.
In response to the report the BBC said it wanted to be the ‘most transparent organisation when it comes to pay’ and will do more to explain the salary of each presenter receiving more than £150,000.
It wants to close the gender pay gap by 2020 by which point it aims to have equal numbers of men and women on screen.
Unveiling a pay system with ‘transparency at its heart’, the broadcaster also announced ‘substantial pay cuts’ for some men and increases for some female (and male) presenters.
The BBC has proposed a £320,000 cap on its news presenters’ salaries after an outcry over gender pay inequality, according to BBC News.
Last week a number of the BBC’s leading male presenters agreed to have their pay cut in the wake of the row.
The broadcaster said Jeremy Vine, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Nick Robinson and Huw Edwards would take reduced wages.
Despite cutting the pay of highly paid male stars, the corporation will struggle to balance the books this year because so many staff now require pay increases.
How the men compare to the women: BBC ‘big beast’ presenters pay comparisons
Fiona Bruce , who is also the presenter of Antiques Roadshow, earns between £350,000 and £399,999
While some men accepted pay cuts last week, the BBC report has shone a light on the comparison between ‘big beast’ presenters at the Corporation.
BBC News at Ten:
Presenter Huw Edwards is paid between £550,000 and £599,999.
His colleague Fiona Bruce, who is also the presenter of Antiques Roadshow, earns between £350,000 and £399,999.
BBC Radio 4:
John Humphrys is in the pay band £600,000 to £649,999.
In comparison, Mishal Husain earns between £200,000 and £249,999 a year.
Andrew Marr, who presents his own political talk programme on BBC One, is paid between £400,000 to £449,999.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg earns between £200,000 and £249,999 a year.
Andrew Marr , who presents his own political talk programme on BBC One, is paid between £400,000 to £449,999
BBC Radio Two:
Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine earns between £700,000 and £749,999, while fellow presenter Jo Whiley’s salary is between £150,000 and £200,000.
Radio Five Live:
Radio Five Live’s Nicky Campbell is paid between £400,000 to £449,999, while Rachel Burden was not even on the list of the Corporation’s top 96 paid presenters.
‘The BBC doesn’t do equal pay’: What the former Scotland health correspondent was told when she queried her salary
Last night MPs published a string of examples of pay inequality at the BBC. They included:
Eleanor Bradford, former health correspondent for BBC Scotland
Eleanor Bradford, former health correspondent for BBC Scotland:
Paid about £15,000 less than male health journalists – despite being told she was a ‘model correspondent’. Miss Bradford, pictured, complained and got a £5,000 increase, but left as it did not close the gap.
When she queried her salary, she was told: ‘The BBC doesn’t do equal pay.’
She was happy to be named since she no longer works for the corporation.
TV news presenter: ‘I sat next to a man with an identical job paid tens of thousands more’
Spent three years sitting next to a man who was paid tens of thousands more for the same job. Was offered an immediate pay rise just before the BBC published its ‘rich list’ last summer.
National radio presenter with more than 20 years’ experience: ‘The line manager told me ‘the BBC doesn’t do equal pay”
Invited on trial for a ‘flagship arts programme’. Two men with ‘no broadcasting experience’ were paid 25 per cent extra for the same trial. She got the job but her male co-host was on 50 per cent more. Her boss told her the ‘BBC doesn’t do equal pay’ and she was being ‘aggressive’ for raising the issue.
BBC reporter: ‘I don’t resent my male colleague… but we need parity of pay’
Earns half the rate her male counterpart does for equivalent programmes, with access to fewer resources. Offered 25 per cent pay rise when she complained, after months of wrangling.
National broadcaster: ‘I have been offered a 65% pay rise, whilst also being told ‘there was no issue of equal pay’
Offered 65 per cent rise after the pay row erupted – bringing her in line with the lowest-paid presenter on her programme. BBC said it was ‘satisfied there was no issue of equal pay’ in her case.
News programme presenter: ‘I am paid hundreds of thousands less than some of my colleagues’
Spent six months negotiating a salary of £53,600 for a three-day week. Then found she was on £45,000 less than her immediate male predecessor.
Sports broadcaster: ‘What you are worth is solely at the whim of management who essentially in sport are always men’
Receives £500 a shift to front a flagship sports radio programme – while her male co-presenter gets £1,200. Was offered £650 per shift after complaining. Says she is ‘at the top of [her] game’ with 30 years’ experience.
‘On air editor’: ‘The BBC has refused to accept there is an equal pay issue, but offered me an on the spot 10% increase’
The BBC rich-list revealed a male editor on the same programme was paid between 50 and 100 per cent more than she is. BBC said there was no equal pay issue, but offered an ‘on the spot 10 per cent increase’ which she rejected.
Regional presenter: ‘I raised the equal pay issue many times over the years, but nothing was done’
Is paid half the amount per shift that her male co-presenter receives, despite doing the same job for years.
Sport editor: ‘Four men doing the same job have confirmed their salary is higher by up to £10,000’
Paid up to £10,000 less than her male counterparts. Requested equal pay last year but it is still under review.
Radio 4 reporter: ‘I am considering further action as they refuse to backdate my pay’
Paid £7,000 less than her male colleague for doing the same job. When she raised a formal grievance, she was offered a £4,500 rise with no back pay.
National radio presenter: ‘I have worked with my male co-host six years and for all that time been paid one-third the rate he is paid’
Gets just one third of the salary of her male co-host, despite doing the same job for the past six years. Was told in 2016 that there was no issue, but was given an increase in 2017.
Presenter on national radio: ‘As the sole breadwinner I eventually had no choice but to leave’
Told in 2013 her local radio job was at risk and she could only stay on for half her previous salary – which was also half the rate paid to her male co-host. She could not afford to accept the deal so left. She then got a better-paid job at the BBC, but still earns less than half the amount of her male co-host.
Regional news presenter: ‘I can’t see any justification for the pay gap which remains’
Paid a third less than her male co-host on a TV news programme – despite working the same hours, and regularly being chosen over her colleague for particularly demanding segments. Had equal pay request refused until last year, when she was got a 5 per cent rise.