Speed Reads

Mind the gap

Longtime BBC News editor quits Beijing bureau, saying her male peers were paid at least 50 percent more

BBC News China editor Carrie Gracie quit her job at the Beijing bureau after accusing the BBC of a "secretive and illegal pay culture," BBC News reported Sunday night. In an open letter on her blog, Gracie said that she was offered the new China editor position four years ago, and despite the challenges of living 5,000 miles from her kids "in a heavily censored one-party state" where she "would face surveillance, police harassment, and official intimidation," she accepted the job, on the condition that "I must be paid equally with my male peers."

The BBC was compelled last July to release the salaries of all employees earning more than £150,000 (about $200,300) a year, and the two male international editors, for the U.S. and Middle East, earned "at least 50 percent more" than Gracie — a 30-year BBC veteran who speaks fluent Mandarin — and the other female international editor, Gracie said. "Enough is enough." The Equality Act of 2010 "states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay," and "I told my bosses the only acceptable resolution would be for all the international editors to be paid the same amount," she wrote.

The BBC offered me a big pay rise which remained far short of equality. It said there were differences between roles which justified the pay gap, but it has refused to explain these differences. ... The rise of China is one of the biggest stories of our time and one of the hardest to tell. I cannot do it justice while battling my bosses and a byzantine complaints process. Last week I left my role as China Editor and will now return to my former post in the TV newsroom where I expect to be paid equally. [Carrie Gracie]

A BBC spokeswoman told BBC News that an independent audit found "no systemic discrimination against women" and the BBC is "performing considerably better than many" organizations on pay equity.