RTÉ scores on gender pay gap not ethnic and age mix, says review

NUJ criticises scope of review as ‘missed opportunity’ overlooking pay extremes

RTÉ: An independent review has highlighted its need for a more transparent culture, a more streamlined grading structure, positive discrimination and widening the recruitment profile. Photograph: Alan Betson

RTÉ: An independent review has highlighted its need for a more transparent culture, a more streamlined grading structure, positive discrimination and widening the recruitment profile. Photograph: Alan Betson


RTÉ’s gender pay gap is much smaller than the national average, but the broadcaster needs to address specific issues in its newsroom, according to a report.

An independent review of gender and role equality among more than 2,000 employees at the national public broadcaster also said it should widen its recruitment policies to reflect the country’s greater ethnic diversity.

The report by Kieran Mulvey, former director general of the Workplace Relations Commission, finds that the gap between salaries paid to male and female employees in RTÉ is 4 per cent, compared to a national average of 14 per cent.

The review was commissioned when controversy over gender pay disparities in a list of the highest-earning presenters at the BBC led to several female RTÉ presenters claiming a similar gap existed there.

In response, RTÉ also brought forward the publication of its highest-paid presenter list, which showed seven of its 10 highest-paid stars were men.

Most of the presenters on that list are not included in Mr Mulvey’s review, since they are paid for their services through external companies.

The report also does not cover the substantial number of people across the organisation who work as self-employed contractors and are therefore not deemed to be employees.

“Issues relating to the earnings of full-time employees and those of the highest-earning presenters have become somewhat intertwined in the current debate,” the review says.

“The employment relationship between these groups is distinctly different and there are particular, individual and commercial factors that separate their respective treatment in employment law provisions.”

Contractor groups

RTÉ has now committed to undertaking a review of contractor groups supplying services to the organisation, which will be completed of the end of March 2018.

The gender distribution of employees across different pay levels shows a two-to-one male bias among those earning over €100,000, but the overall gender distribution at this and other levels are described as “more balanced” than equivalents in the Civil Service or in local authorities.

Mr Mulvey’s review also notes a perception in some sections, particularly news and current affairs, that females are disadvantaged in terms of promotion and salary arrangements. He recommends that issues of alleged gender discrimination in that department should be addressed through normal internal and statutory procedures.

Other recommendations include the need for a more transparent culture within the organisation, a more streamlined grading structure, the possible introduction of positive discrimination when recruiting to grades which have traditionally been occupied by one gender, and the widening of the recruitment profile to reflect the more diverse ethnic background of the population. It also notes that the average age of employees is in the mid-40s.

Digital media

“What is of concern for RTÉ is the age-related profile of its staff and its lack of diversity beyond gender and the attendant challenges it faces in not being able to recruit new full-time posts over the last decade,” the review says. “This may create a challenge also in attracting young and early middle-aged audiences and new citizens who are now using digital media on a regular basis for news, communication and entertainment.”

RTÉ director-general Dee Forbes said the report confirmed the organisation had made “significant strides” in the area of gender and role equality. “I welcome this, while also fully taking on board the various recommendations,” she said.

However, Emma O’Kelly, chair of the Dublin broadcasting branch of the National Union of Journalists, described the review as a “missed opportunity”. She said the union wants a “further, expert audit that is much more extensive”.

“It is very disappointing because it didn’t include the highest-paid and the lowest-paid,” she said. “It didn’t include issues like pensions. For these reasons, it was a missed opportunity.”