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Leading the way on transparency and fair pay

Valerie Hughes-D'Aeth

Chief HR Officer

For many years, the BBC has led the way in transparency in the media industry.

Since 2009, we have published the exact pay of Senior Managers earning more than £150,000, along with details of their expenses and a register of gifts and hospitality. Our Annual Report carries a huge amount of detail on our staff, managers, Executive Committee and the BBC Board. And for many years, we have revealed how much has been spent on all talent pay, set out in bands showing numbers and costs.

But we recognise the BBC has a special responsibility to be open because of the way we are funded by the licence fee. That’s why we’ve placed a real focus on ensuring we’re even more at the forefront when it comes to transparency.

Over the past year, we have published two gender pay gap reports as well as an equal pay audit. And just a few weeks ago we published the latest details of our on air talent earning more than £150,000 from the licence fee - including details of the work people are paid for and in more precise amounts than last year. But transparency isn’t just about the information we publish for licence fee payers – we also need to be open and clear with our staff if we’re to create the simple, fair and consistent BBC which is a great place to work and produces the best output for our audiences.

One of the most important changes we’ve been making at the BBC is the introduction of the Career Path Framework. I know this might sound like HR speak. But it’s a clear structure which means every member of staff can see where their job sits within the organisation - and what they need to do in order to progress their career.

It is hugely important to me to give staff that clarity and consistency. Before, we had too many job titles - up to 5,000 at one point - but we’ve cut that to around 600. We have 27 job groups - such as Journalism, Legal or Commissioning - so that everyone can see the steps to working their way up or across the internal career ladder. And we’ve moved from jobs being ranked as one of 16 different grades to having six broad bands.

Each job at the BBC now has a clear pay range for the first time. We’ve shown all our staff what the pay range is for their specific job, and where they as an individual sit within it. Where there are more than twenty people in a job, staff can see how they compare to others in that same job. And staff across the organisation are now able to see the pay ranges for each job in the organisation. This will mean they have a clear idea of where they sit in comparison to other jobs and what to expect pay-wise when applying for an attachment or promotion. It also means new joiners will have a clear understanding of the pay range for their job.

This is a big step forward in the amount of information available to around 18,000 staff. At the same time we’re near to concluding our consultation with on-air presenters, editors and correspondents about similar reforms so each job also has a clear pay range. When this work is complete, those ranges will be available for staff to see as well.

Why does all this matter? Because we want the BBC to be the place where people come to do their very best work in a creative and trusted environment. And as a publicly funded broadcaster, it’s only right that we’re striving to be as open and accountable as possible.

However, we are always mindful that more can be done and that’s why we have commissioned two reviews to ensure that we are at the forefront of transparency.

Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College Oxford, and Chair of the Big Innovation Centre’s Innovation Board, will undertake a review of transparency in the public service, as well as a specific audit and review of the BBC’s approach to transparency around employee pay and reward. It will look to benchmark the BBC’s approach to disclosure and transparency against best practice in the public sector and other broadcasters, review the BBC’s obligations and existing practice in this area, listen to staff on their views and make recommendations on any areas where transparency around BBC pay and reward could be improved.

Separately, we have appointed Christopher Saul, former Senior Partner at Slaughter and May, and now an independent adviser on governance and succession in the private sector, to review the BBC’s approach to transparency in its commercial subsidiaries.

Both will make their recommendations to the BBC Board this autumn.

These are important steps we are taking. I want our staff to have the information they need to know they are paid fairly, and for licence fee payers to know we are spending their money wisely.