Self-proclaimed champions of transparency, news organizations often flee the sunlight when their own blemishes feel its heat. But just days after the BBC published its top earners’ salaries, revealing a lack of diversity and unequal pay in the broadcaster’s top ranks, another UK-based media giant is grappling with its own gender wage gap.
Journalists at The Financial Times are threatening to strike over the issue, The Guardian reported on Monday. A letter from the newspaper’s union head to its staff suggested there is a 13 percent pay gap between men and women in the newsroom, adding, “There is an increasing sense among journalists here that FT managers have not been taking this matter seriously enough.”
The note, sent from FT union head Steve Bird to almost 600 staffers, continued:
Working for a private company where even the salaries of the editor and CEO are not disclosed does not inspire confidence in the FT’s commitment to transparency, and recent corporate statements seem more concerned about the commercial implications of gender bias than bringing women’s salaries into line with those of male counterparts.
Staff of the newspaper, which is a mainstay of the global financial community and boasts a large American presence, will hold a meeting Wednesday to chart a way forward. FT brass said in a statement distributed to British media that “we take the matter of gender pay seriously” and “have a long list of active initiatives in place” to promote more women into senior positions and close the wage disparity by 2022.
FT being a newspaper, there’s a handy archive of documented evidence of the organization criticizing this very issue. For Exhibit A, I’ll point you all the way back to July 20, 2017.
After details emerged of how white men dominate the ranks of top earners at the publicly backed BBC, the headline of an FT editorial—the newspaper’s institutional position—spoke in plain language: “Women are right to be angry at the pay gap.”
Such hypocrisy has a habit of dribbling out, and it’s not lost on the people who read, watch, or listen to media outlets’ reporting on workplace issues. Take Dow Jones, parent company of The Wall Street Journal, where a study commissioned by its editorial union found “a significant gender pay gap in every location, in every quarter, and within the largest job single category here: reporter.” The newspaper, meanwhile, has reported aggressively on that very topic.
Perhaps the WSJ newsroom should look to its comrades in the financial press for inspiration: If The Financial Times’ threat to strike over its gender pay gap is any indication, patience for management to address the issue internally is wearing thin. And the longer they wait, the hotter that sunlight will eventually burn.