Investigation into pay at BBC was not robust, says gender equality charity

The investigation into pay discrimination at the BBC was not “robust research”, according to the chief executive of the Fawcett Society.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found no unlawful acts of pay discrimination by the BBC after considering pay complaints raised by BBC staff.

Sam Smethers told the PA news agency that some of the “strongest cases” were not properly examined as part of the investigation.

BBC Stock
BBC Stock

The gender equality charity chief executive added: “It just can’t be good, robust research to reach a conclusion like that about systemic discrimination across an organisation but only do 10 in-depth cases, it just doesn’t stand up.”

Ms Smethers labelled the findings as “disappointing”, adding that “the fight for equal pay goes on” at the broadcaster.

The watchdog selected 10 cases to look at in depth, from 2017 to 2019, as part of its investigation.

“Most of the cases of suspected pay discrimination at the BBC they haven’t looked into, they haven’t reached a conclusion about,” Ms Smethers said.

“I really think it is misrepresenting what the reality is for most women who have challenged what they believe to be pay discrimination at the BBC.”

She said she is worried people will be left with the impression the BBC has been “cleared” over the issue when “the report does not do that”.

BBC Stock
BBC Stock

Ms Smethers added that she suspects the relationship between female employees at the BBC and their employer has “probably got worse” as a result of the EHRC investigation.

The relationship was “in a pretty bad place already”, she added.

The EHRC’s chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath has defended its research, saying it is “very confident” in its “robust findings”.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said on Thursday that the broadcaster will “work even harder to be best in class” on gender pay issues.

“Trust is vitally important and, as an organisation that serves the public, the BBC must continue to lead the way on pay transparency and fairness. We are committed to building a truly inclusive culture,” he added.

He said the broadcaster accepts “every one of their recommendations and will implement them”.