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What Horrors, The BBC’s Been Giving Pay Rises To Men!

The Times has a useful example of why this fair and equal pay idea is going nowhere – unless it’s to the point that everyone at the BBC gets paid exactly the same amount of money. We have to admit that there’s an attraction to that last, the amount being £0 by preference as the BBC ceases to exist as a public corporation. Still, the horror uncovered here is that this new system brought in to make sure that women receive equal pay to men. Apparently some men have been getting pay rises!

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Male BBC employees received a third of the pay rises handed to corporation staff in the aftermath of the gender pay scandal, The Times can reveal. More than 100 men have enjoyed salary hikes after querying their deals through an informal system established by corporation bosses last year in an attempt to correct wage irregularities. The BBC Women support group has taken the lead in fighting for pay equality at the national broadcaster but figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that many male colleagues are among the beneficiaries. [/perfectpullquote]

Well, if we’re fighting for pay equality then we’re fighting for equality for all, surely? And if some men are underpaid by whatever standard we’re using then their getting rises is just fine, nu? Well, obviously not, if this is something that has a newspaper up in arms.

But this does usefully show the underlying problem with our system of measure, doesn’t it? The initial claim is that women are underpaid. That’s what produced the actual scandal in the first place. But when we examine in detail we find that actually, a third of the men are underpaid. Thus our initial measure, the one about gender meaning underpayment, isn’t true, is it?

Sure, we knew this anyway, the UK in general doesn’t have a gender pay gap it has a child caused motherhood pay gap which is a very different thing. Apart from anything else in this age of effective contraception the resultant pay gap is a voluntary acceptance of the costs and benefits of any course of life.

This is odd:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] The mean pay increase all of 316 employees was £6,104, indicating a total annual extra cost to the licence fee-payer of nearly £2 million. When first asked to disclose the average raise, the BBC provided the figure as a mode, £3,783. This number effectively masked the total bill by failing to reflect the scale of the biggest increases handed out to staff who had been most seriously underpaid. The BBC only provided the figure as a mean when challenged by The Times. [/perfectpullquote]

The mode is a very odd number to provide. A suspicion is that they didn’t, that instead they provided the median but then we can’t go around questioning the reporting of The Times now, can we? But the thing is, when discussing pay and gender we’re told, by none less than the Statistics Ombudsman, that we should be not using the mean. It’s thoroughly misleading to do so.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]However, the news that more than 100 BBC men have successfully secured rises suggests that the corporation’s historic pay disparities are more complex than can be explained by gender discrimination alone.[/perfectpullquote]

Well, yes. Given that there isn’t any gender discrimination – rather than that motherhood and children stuff, as above an entirely different matter – this is probably true. Which does make the campaign to first blame it upon and then try to fix it concerning gender rather an isometric exercise. Lots of effort getting nowhere.

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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
5 years ago

My hobby horse, but I’ll keep flogging it. It’s not a motherhood gap, it’s a taking-time-off-work gap. Two of my male friends, one abandoned with kids, the other widowed with kids, both had their lifetime earnings negatively affected.

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