BBC Settles with “Underpaid” Editor

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian is the founder of 5W Public Relations.

These days, the scandals in the media seem to be mostly centered around harassment at work, but a recent headline out of Britain reminded both readers and activists that some women are still fighting for an equitable paycheck.

CNN is reporting that the BBC is apologizing for “underpaying” a senior editor who happened to be a woman. Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s China Editor, learned she was being paid less than male colleagues in similar roles. Gracie challenged that situation, sparking an industry wide conversation about compensation for women and equality of opportunity with their male counterparts.

In an interesting move, both parties — the BBC and Gracie — released a joint statement about the resolution of the conflict. The BBC was blunt in its assessment of the mistake: “Carrie has made, and will continue to make, an important contribution to the BBC… During her tenure as China Editor, Carrie delivered reports, analysis and work, that were as valuable as those of the other International Editors in the same period.”

After the period in question, and after learning of the pay disparity, Gracie resigned and went public with her allegation that men in similar positions earned up to “50 percent more” than their female counterparts. The BBC agreed this was not acceptable, and settled with Gracie for an undisclosed amount of back pay. Having made her point and won the day, Gracie took the settlement cash and donated it to charity.

That happy ending to this story does not mirror the language that has been used to describe the conflict since Gracie initially went public. She went on record, describing the BBC’s pay structure as “secretive and illegal,” language that set off a firestorm at the BBC.

Individual and collective investigations were conducted, and many media outlets picked up the thread of the story, which threatened to damage the BBC’s reputation both in Britain and internationally. In response, the BBC promised to close the gender pay gap of “nearly 10 percent” by 2020.

As promises go, that’s a strong statement, but it will take more than this to remove the perspective some will have that the BBC does not treat women equitably. A lot of attention is currently being paid to these issues, and it’s certain people will be watching to see if the company makes good on its promise. So, in the end, Gracie is content and the BBC has a clear opportunity to get a win by hitting its goal.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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