What the gender pay gap means and how people calculate it are worlds apart. To most people it means a person being paid less based upon their gender for the same work. In fact discriminating based upon gender in the U.K. is illegal.
So when the BBC runs an article about the gender pay gap stating “Women’s hourly pay rates are 52% lower than men’s at Easyjet.”, people are rightly shocked.
It is only becomes apparent a couple of paragraphs down that there is in fact no pay difference in roles. They are referring to a gender role gap instead. There is a significant disparity in the proportion of women in roles that pay more. This isn’t about pay equality, it is about hiring equality.
What are EasyJet doing to hire more male cabin crew and more female pilots? It is important to have balance when asking these questions. The question of why there aren’t more male cabin crew most not be forgotten!
The problem with headlines like the above is they dull down the impact of stories like that of Carrie Gracie. Where the BBC is clearly failing to achieve pay equality. There may be slight differences in the work load between different international news editors. However it was clear even to the BBC they had to do something once pay differences were publicly released.
As a publicly owned company we expect a certain standard to be set. They must either achieve pay parity or give valid reasons it is not. However they fell short of both, failing to offer equal pay and reasons for the difference. This has truly shamed the BBC, and Carrie Gracie has bravely started what will inevitably be a wave of change.
The BBC face a huge dilemma and not one they can solve overnight, nor even in a year. They are paying too much to some and too little to others. Simply put there is not the budget to increase women’s pay without cutting mens. To do so will take time, as contracts come up for renewal men will either have to take pay cuts or new talent will have to be found. Finding new talent is a BBC speciality, so they should see this as an opportunity.