BBC failed Brits over explosive equal pay row, MPs say in brutal report
The BBC failed the British people in its refusal to grant equal pay to female employees, a group of MPs have declared.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the public broadcaster had an “even higher level of duty than others to advance equality of opportunity” but had let the public down.
Female journalists at the BBC launched an open revolt last year when it emerged male stars were being paid far more than women - in some cases for the same jobs.
The top seven paid stars were men, with Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topping the list with his bumper £2.2m salary.
Senior journalist Carrie Gracie led the charge when she quit as China editor, while a host of male stars agreed to pay cuts and the corporation vowed to change its rules.
But the DCMS Committee said the broadcaster had been “failing to live up to its duty under the Equality Act to advance equal opportunity for women”.
Chair Damian Collins said: “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.
“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.”
The Committee said senior pay awards at the BBC had been “ad hoc” and “personality led” with a “lack of central oversight” and “misuses of managerial discretion”.
It also condemned the handling by the broadcaster of the grievance process in the wake of the explosive pay row, and said proposed measures to change the culture lacked transparency.
And it criticised the BBC policy of insisting presenters work on a self-employed basis, as those who did so could be facing eye-watering tax bills after a complaint from HMRC.
But spokesperson for the broadcaster pushed back at the report, saying that its findings were "already out of date".
"Recent disclosures by other media organisations show that the BBC’s gender pay gap is amongst the smallest and well below the national average," they said.
"But we do hold ourselves to a higher standard.
"That is why our action on pay has seen the BBC make real progress in addressing equal pay cases; carry out an independent audit of equal pay overseen by a former Court of Appeal judge; introduce independent oversight so that disputes can be resolved; take clear steps to rebalance top talent pay; reform our pay structure to ensure fairness and give an unprecedented level of transparency and information about pay ranges for all staff; and, set up independent reviews to see what further steps should be taken on pay transparency."