Equality watchdog clears BBC of pay discrimination against women

Carrie Gracie (centre) and other BBC employees outside New Broadcasting House in March 2018
Carrie Gracie (centre) and other BBC employees outside New Broadcasting House in March 2018

An investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has found no unlawful acts of pay discrimination against women by the BBC.

But it has recommended “improvements to increase transparency and rebuild trust with women at the organisation”.

The watchdog launched its equal pay investigation in March 2019.

BBC director general Tim Davie pledged to implement and accept its recommendations, saying: “We have to work even harder to be best in class.”

The commission said the BBC accepted that “its historical practices were not fit for purpose and has made significant changes since 2015”.

The investigation followed a string of high-profile complaints involving presenters like Samira Ahmed, Carrie Gracie and Sarah Montague.

Naga Munchetty (left) and Samira Ahmed
TV and radio presenter Samira Ahmed (right) won an equal pay case against the BBC in January

After discovering she was paid less than colleagues like Jon Sopel and Jeremy Bowen, Gracie resigned as the corporation’s China editor in January 2018. She received back pay and an apology from the corporation.

Meanwhile, Montague received a £400,000 settlement after being paid less than former Radio 4 co-presenters like John Humphrys and Nick Robinson.

And Newswatch host Ahmed successfully argued at an employment tribunal that Jeremy Vine was paid more than six times her salary for doing similar work on Points of View.

Differences between men and women were exposed when the corporation published its first star salaries list in 2017. Only two of the top 14 earners were women, and men made up about two-thirds of the overall list.

The BBC has said more than 500 women have been awarded rises since 2017 as a result of complaints covering both equal pay and fair pay.

Mr Davie told MPs at the end of September that eight outstanding equal pay cases were still going through the tribunal process, another 10 were going through the BBC’s own formal procedure and two informal complaints were also unresolved.

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Ethics watchdog clears Bill Morneau of failing to disclose gift from WE Charity

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Matt Torigian, former deputy solicitor general of Ontario, concluded the government asked WE to submit a proposal, considered the ability of other organizations to run the program and its ultimate choice of WE was “not predetermined.”

After reviewing all the organization’s finances, forensic accountant Al Rosen dismissed suggestions that the charity was in dire financial straits before being awarded the contract or that there were financial irregularities in its operations from which the Kielburger brothers stood to benefit.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak on stage at a WE Charity event in New York in 2017. Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for We Day

“These financial findings stand in stark contrast to many public allegations launched against the organization by members of Parliament, Canadian media, and select critics,” Rosen wrote.

Morneau resigned abruptly from politics in August, as the WE affair continued to engulf the government. There were also reports of tensions between Morneau and Trudeau over massive spending on pandemic relief.

The following day, Trudeau prorogued Parliament for six weeks — a move opposition parties charged was intended to shut down committee investigations into the WE affair.

Since Parliament’s resumption in September, the Liberals have been filibustering opposition attempts to reopen those committee investigations.

However, there is no mention of the WE affair in a report to Parliament explaining the decision to prorogue — a new requirement introduced by the Trudeau government ostensibly to prevent abuse of the prorogation procedure.

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