Northern Ireland news

BBC Northern Ireland's gender pay gap revealed

BBC headquarters in Belfast
Brendan Hughes

THE gender pay disparity within BBC Northern Ireland is today revealed as the public service broadcaster comes under renewed pressure over claims of wage inequality.

Women hold fewer than a third of the highest-paying jobs in BBC Northern Ireland (BBC NI) – a lower proportion than the 41 per cent across the BBC overall.

Women are also underrepresented within BBC NI's ranks and across various pay bands compared to the corporation as a whole, figures obtained by The Irish News show.

Of almost 700 people employed in BBC NI, 44 per cent are women. This is below the average of 48 per cent for the BBC overall, and lower than any other region.

The Northern Ireland figure drops further to 41 per cent as a proportion of full-time-equivalent employees.

The details emerge just days after the BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie resigned claiming "unlawful pay discrimination".

The journalist said she learned last year that of the four international editors in the past four years at the corporation, two men had earned more than their female counterparts.

Up to 200 women at various levels of the organisation have made complaints about pay, according to BBC Women, a group of more than 150 broadcasters and producers.

The fallout comes after the BBC published a list of its best-paid stars last July.

About two-thirds of those earning more than £150,000 were male.

Belfast-born broadcaster Stephen Nolan was revealed as among the 15 highest-paid presenters, receiving an annual salary of between £400,000 and £449,999.

Since the list's publication, women in BBC NI have joined a wider campaign calling for the corporation to tackle the gender pay gap.

Veteran Radio Ulster broadcaster Wendy Austin was among more than 40 high-profile female presenters across the BBC who signed a letter sent to director general Tony Hall.

In November, she and numerous BBC NI colleagues including Tara Mills and Marie-Louise Connolly campaigned in Belfast on 'equal pay day'.

The figures for full-time-equivalent employees' salaries were obtained by The Irish News through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Of the 10 staff in the top salary bands 'SM1&2' for senior management, seven are men and three women.

The head of BBC NI, director Peter Johnston, earns a salary of £146,000.

In the next-highest bands 10 and 11 – which can range from £40,000 to over £70,000 – there are 29 full-time-equivalent men (71 per cent) and 11.9 women (29 per cent).

It means that within these top salary brackets, just 29.3 per cent of BBC NI employees are women.

This is a lower proportion than the 41 per cent seen in these bands in the corporation as a whole, although the BBC's overall figures are based on an employee headcount rather than full-time-equivalent figures.

The gender pay gap is the difference between average earnings for men and women across an organisation.

In October, a report found that men in the BBC earn an average of 9.3 per cent more than women, compared to 18 per cent across the UK as a whole.

The report was published in line with a legal requirement for all organisations in Britain with more than 250 employees to release a gender pay gap report by April 2018.

However, the BBC was unable to provide a separate gender pay gap figure for BBC NI.

A judge-led audit of equal pay among rank-and-file BBC staff found there was "no question of any systemic gender discrimination".

A separate review is also soon to be published on the BBC's approach to on-air presenters, editors and correspondents, who are employed on different contracts.

In a statement the BBC said: "We've been really clear about our commitment to be a leader in this area and have pledged to close our gender pay gap across the BBC by 2020 and have a 50:50 split of men and women in leadership and presenting roles on air."

A BBC NI spokesman said: "BBC Northern Ireland will play its part in helping the wider BBC achieve its targets."

Although the UK gender pay gap is 18 per cent favouring men, in Northern Ireland women on average earn 3.4 per cent more than their male counterparts.

Statisticians have suggested this is partly due to the north's higher proportion of public sector jobs.


:: Salaries for men and women in BBC NI (full-time equivalent staff):

Bands SM1&2 (Various salaries):

3 female (30%), 7 male (70%)

Bands 10-11 (£40-71,000):

11.9 female (29.1%), 29 male (70.9%)

Bands 8-9 (£32-57,000):

71.4 female (39.6%), 108.7 male (60.4%)

Bands 5-7 (£21-44,000):

147.9 female (41.9%), 204.7 male (58.1%)

Bands 1-4 (Less than £15,000 - £30,000):

32.7 female (49.2%), 33.8 male (50.8%)


266.9 female (41.1%), 383.1 male (58.9%)

Figures from October 2017. Indicative wage ranges based on figures released in September 2016 for BBC salary bands outside London.

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