BBC manager publicly turns down promotion over gender pay inequality

Albertina Lloyd
Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
File photo dated 21/12/2018 of the logo on BBC's Broadcasting House in London. Women at the BBC continue to be paid "far less" than men for the same work, a report into equal pay at the broadcaster has said.

A BBC manager has publicly turned down a promotion after learning she would be paid £12,000 less than her male counterpart.

Karen Martin sent a group mail out to hundreds of BBC staff announcing she would no longer me taking up her role as deputy editor in the BBC radio newsroom as her colleague Roger Sawyer had been offered the same role and title for a substantially higher salary.

The BBC World Service producer wrote in an email to all BBC radon newsroom staff: “Despite being awarded the same job, on the same day, after the same board, during the same recruitment process, BBC News asked me to accept a considerably lower salary than my male counterpart. A lot less.

“I’ve been assured our roles and responsibilities are the same. I’ve also been told my appointment was ‘very well deserved’. It’s just that I’m worth £12,000 less.

BBC producer Karen Martin (Credit: Facebook)

“Over the past four months I have asked BBC News to think again. And they’ve inched their offer up by addressing historical ‘under payments’. Now the gap is nearer to £7,000. But for me it has never been about the actual salary. It has been about equal pay.”

Martin is now threatening legal action against the BBC and claims the corporation is still struggling to tackle the pay gap between men and women.

She wrote: “As a single mother I decided to discuss the dilemma with my two daughters who are 13 and seven. There were no long meetings, no need for reviews and no wrestling with consciences. There were no attempts to explain away the injustice.

“They said: ‘You always tell us to stand up for what is right. If it means less pocket money or not going on holiday, we don’t mind. What matters to us is that when we grow up we want to be paid the same as a man for the same job.’ And just like that, my decision was made.”

Read more: BBC pay: List of highest paid stars reveals men still receive more than women

Martin said she had been in touch with the BBC director general, Tony Hall, about the issue. She also revealed she had been warned that going public with her decision could damage her future career prospects.

The BBC is already facing an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into claims men have consistently been paid more than women for doing the same job. Martin said she would consider helping the inquiry.

The head of BBC news output, Gavin Allen, later emailed staff saying: “Roger has worked at or above this level for several years whereas Karen was offered this role as a promotion, with a significant pay increase. We think most people would understand that these factors would result in some difference between their individual pay.

“I accept that we have not always got things right in the past on pay but I believe this is not one of those cases.”

The relevant pay band in this instance is thought to be £60,000 to £100,000.

BBC Radio 4 Today presenters Sarah Montague and John Humphrys broadcast today's Today programme at Wigmore Hall in central London as the BBC Radio 4 Today programme celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Last year BBC Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague said she was “incandescent with rage” and “felt a sap” when she learned she was paid far less than her Today programme co-stars.

Montague, who was a core member of the team for 17 years, said she was paid £133,000 and that it “was a very good wage for a job that I loved”. But in July 2017 the BBC revealed Today programme host John Humphrys was earning £600,000 to £649,000. Nick Robinson was on £250,000 to £299,000, and Justin Webb earned between £150,000 and £199,999. Mishal Husain was revealed to be £200,000 to £249,000 pay bracket.

Read more: BBC Settles With Carrie Gracie, Journalist at Centre of Gender Pay Dispute

In January last year the BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie resigned from her post after 30 years with the corporation due to pay inequality.

Gracie wrote in an open letter posted on her blog: "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.

"Despite the BBC's public insistence that my appointment demonstrated its commitment to gender equality, and despite my own insistence that equality was a condition of taking up the post, my managers had yet again judged that women's work was worth much less than men's."

BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House in London, Monday Jan. 8, 2018. The BBC's China editor has resigned her position in Beijing in protest over what she called a failure to sufficiently address a gap in compensation between men and women at the public broadcaster. Carrie Gracie's departure is the latest aftershock from the public corporation's forced publication last year of pay levels for its top earners that showed two-thirds of those in the top bracket were men. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

Gracie said she asked for the four international editors to be paid equally.

"Instead the BBC offered me a big pay rise which remained far short of equality," she added.

"I believe I am very well paid already - especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation.

"I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally."