2017 was a big year for women fighting back against institutional sexism, with the #MeToo movement gaining steam and the backlash against sexual harassment growing ever stronger. We’re likely to see more of the same in 2018, and the struggle may soon expand to another front: the compensation gap. Carrie Gracie, one of the world’s most respected journalists, is ready to lead that fight.
According to CNN, Gracie is resigning from her position as the BBC’s China editor in what she calls a direct response to the organization’s “secretive and illegal pay structure.”
Gracie’s protest is the continuation of a long-term trend at the BBC, where a dispute over income inequality between the sexes has been ongoing for months now. A report came out in July that exposed the major gap between men’s and women’s salaries at the British public broadcasting organization: it showed that more than two-thirds of the company’s top earners were men.
In an open letter, Gracie wrote that the BBC “is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure.” She has been fighting this fight since the initial report in July. The company offered her a big raise at that time, but she insisted that the salary offered was still “far short of equality.”
For many years, the compensation gap at the BBC went undiscovered, as the organization resisted publishing its salary data. A recent British government initiative to improve transparency changed matters, however. The BBC was forced to disclose the salaries of anyone making more than £150,000. North America editor Jonathan Sopel was identified as earning over £200,000, and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen was over £150,000. Gracie wasn’t listed.
After exposing this disparity publicly, Gracie received an outpouring of support from across the journalistic world. Many colleagues, male and female alike, voiced their solidarity with Gracie using the hashtag #IStandWithCarrie. Gracie, in an interview with BBC Radio, responded by calling their words “very moving.”
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