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BBC News Editor Quits Her Post to Protest Gender Pay Gap

A senior editor for BBC News accused the network in an open letter Sunday of operating a “secretive and illegal” salary system that pays men more than women in similar positions.

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, New York Times

A senior editor for BBC News accused the network in an open letter Sunday of operating a “secretive and illegal” salary system that pays men more than women in similar positions.

The editor, Carrie Gracie, who joined the network 30 years ago, said she quit her position as China editor last week to protest pay inequality within the company. In the letter posted on her website, she said that she and other women had long suspected their male counterparts drew larger salaries and that BBC management had refused to acknowledge the problem.

She said she decided to make her story public, risking discipline or dismissal, because she wanted viewers to know the BBC had been “resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure.”

“I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally,” Gracie wrote, citing the Equality Act 2010, which states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay. “On pay, the BBC is not living up to its stated values of trust, honesty and accountability.”

Her letter comes at a moment of reckoning for news media organizations in the United States and elsewhere, ushered in by the #MeToo movement that has revealed discrimination and sexual misconduct in an industry long dominated by men.

Her letter also magnified the pressure the BBC has recently faced internally and externally to fix a significant pay gap between men and women throughout its ranks, even among its top television and radio stars.

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment Sunday night but in a statement to BBC News, a spokeswoman, citing a salary audit, said there was “no systemic discrimination against women” and that “a significant number of organizations have now published their gender pay figures showing that we are performing considerably better.”

Last year, the publicly funded network published the salary ranges of employees who earned more than 150,000 pounds (about $204,000) annually — a list that was two-thirds men and included no women among its seven highest earners. Gracie did not make the list. On average, men made about 10 percent more than women, the report found.

Gracie said she learned in that report just how severely she had been underpaid despite her high-ranking position in its news division. While she did not reveal her salary, she said that of the four international news editors, the two men earned 50 percent more than the two women.

She wrote that she believed her promotion to China editor, which required her to move to Beijing and leave her children in the United Kingdom, meant she would be paid the same as her male colleagues.

“Like many other BBC women, I had long suspected that I was routinely paid less, and at this point in my career, I was determined not to let it happen again,” she wrote about accepting the China editor position in 2014. “Believing that I had secured pay parity with men in equivalent roles, I set off for Beijing.”

Gracie said that after the salaries were made public, she asked for pay matching her male counterparts’. BBC management offered her a “big pay rise which remained far short of equality,” so she declined it, she wrote.

“Since turning down an unequal pay rise, I have been subjected to a dismayingly incompetent and undermining grievance process which still has no outcome,” she added.

Gracie, who could not be reached Sunday night, previously worked as a presenter on the BBC.

While she has quit her job in China, Gracie said she will return to a former position within the newsroom “where I expect to be paid equally,” she wrote.

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