Gracie, the BBC’s top journalist in China, left her position in January, accusing the BBC of having a “secretive and illegal pay culture”. Today, she said that the broadcaster offered to pay her around £100,000 ($141,000) in back pay after she made her claim public.
Speaking to British politicians as part of the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Gracie said: “It is an insult to add to the original injury. It is unacceptable to talk to your senior women like that.” She added that the offer “sounds like a tacit admission of pay discrimination”.
Gracie highlighted the difficulties of covering China, particularly because of press freedom issues in the country, and was told that she would be paid a similar amount to the North American editor, which later turned out not to be true. The BBC said that the reason she was paid less was because she was “in development”. However, Gracie, who said she was expected to spend around 200 days a year in China, said that she was told she was in charge when she was given the job. “I was very upset in when a former member of staff told me that the current director of news [Fran Unsworth] had given the impression that I was part-time,” she added.
Last month, Gracie said that the BBC was “not living up to its stated values of trust, honesty and accountability” and subsequently Culture Secretary Matt Hancock called for the British pubcaster to act on the issue.
Gracie’s comments come 24 hours after the BBC announced that a number of female news presenters are to receive substantial pay rises with a raft of male presenters taking pay cuts as part of a full scale review of on-air pay. Yesterday, the BBC published a five-point plan to help “create a fairer and more equal” organisation, carried out in association with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).