February 2018: From the Minister's Level Playing Field
The role and treatment of women has been in the news recently, the departure of Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s China Editor caused much debate. Ms Gracie found out in the summer that her pay was a shade lower than male colleagues doing the ‘same’ job. In fact her job seemed a lot harder because of the Chinese minders who followed her every move and jostled her while reporting (Gary Lineker doesn’t know he’s born) In fact the BBC pay scale if it had been more transparent could have been run by those same minders. Despite legislation, Auntie was found to be a hypocrite when the top pay scale was released. No doubt the subject will be heading to the Courts.
All this from an organisation that spends every waking hour promoting equality and diversity at all levels. It seems that diversity applied most to the wages department. Ms Gracie was criticised by some for saying it was not about the money, it was about equality. She also received much praise for standing up to the Corporation after they offered her more money (but not parity) and failing to complete their own grievance procedure. Do you remember all those sneering documentary’s about unequal pay; women's right and glass ceilings. It was it’s finest hour.
Many other women at the BBC found they were in a similar position. Laura Kuenssberg, didn’t comment on the pay scale but found she was earning a tad less than her male colleagues who don’t stand on a freezing roof at 10.00pm after a long day of waiting around on politicians. Is this fair, is it a matter of moaning or do the ladies need sharper elbows.
It’s not only the high minded who have got tough on discrimination; Stars of film and stage have notice the financial draught and also the casting couch culture that has shamed the industry. The awards season is shaping up to be a very political event.
Politics has only recently improved matters on gender in the corridors of power and it still has a long way to go. Mrs Thatcher didn’t fill the Cabinet with women, quite the opposite and the other parties have not fallen over themselves to put women forward for Party Leader.
The Church has only recently brought equal thinking to bear. That said they have paid everyone equally but until very recently bishops were men. Now Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, is moving on from Crediton where she had been the Church of England’s first woman bishop. She is becoming the next Bishop of London. Rumours are suggesting an archbishop’s hat awaits. Methodism has had Women in ministry for over 50 years and they were given the top jobs 30 years ago.
Recognition, regard and remuneration have been a struggle for many. It’s still an issue for millions of people. It is felt much more keenly for those who are in poverty and at the bottom of the negotiating ladder.
Jesus revealed a very different outlook. He amazed people by speaking with everyone. He had an inclusive approach which has fired debate over the years.
Paul was not quite so inclusive at first glance. Paul has been accused of being sexist by modern standards, but you need to see his moment in time so think of Afghanistan today. In Paul’s time Women were far from free and they were caught up in a culture of extreme patriarchy. However, Paul encourages husbands to both submit to and love their wives (Ephesians 5:22-33). This was a radically new idea. A man submitting to his wife was the equivalent of him submitting to his slave. Paul calls women to continue to submit to their husbands as well, which was not at all a radically new idea. Paul was in fact protecting the women as in that time challenging a man was not a great idea. If a husband ‘laid down the law’ to her he was not answerable for the action. Paul was following a call to save gentiles, he asked the ladies to take their freedom slowly.
In Galatians 3:28 he writes “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Being one, being equal has fired the hopes of countless people down the age. It’s certainly a verse that seems appropriate to the BBC. Do remember though there is far greater injustice elsewhere.