A £700,000 Lesson In Gender Pay Parity

A £700,000 Lesson In Gender Pay Parity

Samira Ahmed is a writer, journalist and broadcaster with the BBC, host of BBC Newswatch, an audience feedback show. Ms Ahmed received a remuneration of £440 per episode that she hosted.

What is the problem you ask?

The problem is that another BBC journalist, Jeremy Vine hosting a similar show, Point of View receives pay of £3,000 per episode. Simple Math tells us that that is 6 times more than what Ms Ahmed is paid. And before anyone conjectures about the other reasons, there were none. So Ms Ahmed filed a discrimination suit against her employers, the BBC network to make up for the £700,000 owed to her in back pay. And on January 10, 2020, the courts ruled in her favour. In the judgment, the judge made it amply clear that this was a case of discrimination and said, “Her work on Newswatch was like Jeremy Vine’s work on Points of View under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010.” It added that the corporation “has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant [Ahmed] to sex discrimination.”

In their defense, the BBC argued that the shows were very different and that Mr. Vine was more popular than Ms. Ahmed and thus garnered more eyeballs. An argument that was shown the door and the evidence considered insufficient. The BBC has had a murky history when it comes to gender pay matters. In 2017, a BBC annual report, revealed that Chris Evans, their highest paid male presenter made between £2.2m and £2.25m in 2016/2017, while Claudia Winkleman, the highest-paid female celebrity, earned between £450,000 and £500,000. While the company cites several reasons for this disparity, it also acknowledges that there is a problem that needs to be put right, and hopes to achieve a better balance by 2020.

A Sobering Fact: The men working for BBC earn 9.3% more than their female counterparts while the UK national average is 18%, thus making the company a better bet than most other companies in the country.

Featured image: Robert Neubecker/ The New York Times

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