Carrie Gracie Claims Breast Cancer Battle Was Easier Than Fighting BBC For Equal Pay

Steven Hopkins
Former BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie, centre, speaks to the media outside the BBC after resolving her pay dispute; she is pictured alongside fellow corporation journalists Martine Croxall (left) and Razia Iqbal

Carrie Gracie, the former BBC China editor, has described her equal pay fight at the corporation as worse than her battle with breast cancer.

The journalist quit her role in January, blasting the broadcaster in an open letter for having a “secretive and illegal pay culture”.

Last month the BBC reached an agreement with Gracie, apologised to her and awarded her backpay. She donated the payout to the Fawcett Society, which lobbies for gender equality.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Gracie said her fight with the BBC - her employer of 30 years - was “definitely worse than breast cancer”, which she was treated for in 2011.

“The stress comes from all the judgment calls along the way,” she said, adding that her pay dispute probably ended her chances of having a “big flagship programme” again. 

“You can’t be seen to be rewarded for the trouble you’ve caused,” she said. 

Gracie made her stand after it was revealed two-thirds of BBC stars earning more than £150,000 were male.

Gracie gives evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Two of Gracie’s male colleagues, who were also foreign editors, earned between £150,000 and £249,999, markedly more than she did, despite the BBC telling her she would be paid in line with other senior journalists - including its North American editor - when she took up the China role.

Gracie was paid £135,000. 

“She accepted the role on that understanding,” the broadcaster admitted last month.

The 56-year-old told the New Yorker of learning that she was paid about 50% less than her male colleagues doing similar jobs: “It’s such a deep blow that your body kind of goes into a profound stop.”

Before writing an open letter detailing her concerns, Gracie had attempted to resolve her pay dispute with the BBC - who initially offered her a 33% pay rise. During this time she began to feel, she told The New Yorker, that the BBC was waging “a crushing war of attrition, with casual contempt for its employees”. 

Earlier this year Gracie told MPs that the BBC treated women who spoke out about pay disparity as “the enemy”.

Since then dozens of BBC staff have been sharing their salaries on secure spreadsheets to ensure colleagues are not underpaid.

Read the full New Yorker article here

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