Male hosts who work for the CBC/Radio Canada make an average of almost 9.5 per cent more than their female counterparts, despite the public broadcaster using what it calls “gender-neutral criteria in order to recruit and retain highly sought-after employees.”
The disparity in salaries is reflected across most employment categories listed in a recent CBC disclosure document: male editors, managers and producers also all make more than their female counterparts. Female reporters are the exception: They make on average almost 3.5 per cent more than men in the same role.
The data were released in response to a request made under the Access to Information Act by a University of Ottawa academic.
Patrick McCurdy, an associate professor in the school’s Department of Communication, requested the information from the CBC in the wake of stories about eye-popping gender pay gaps at the British Broadcasting Corp. After the BBC’s China editor resigned her position in protest over unequal pay for international editors with the news service, six of the BBC’s highest-profile news readers agreed to take pay cuts.
Mr. McCurdy shared the information with The Globe and Mail.
Some of the differences in the average remuneration for male and female staff are likely explained by their length of tenure in each “pay band,” or unionized salary category: Male hosts, for example, have been in the pay band an average of 8.08 years and earn an average annual salary of $85,901, while the average tenure of female hosts is 6.6 years, for an average salary of $83,552.
But many employees also negotiate for what the CBC calls “addrem,” or additional remuneration, which is the most significant source of the disparity: On average, male hosts who are awarded addrem (64 per cent of all male hosts) earn an additional $32,600, for an average total of $118,500; female hosts awarded addrem (59 per cent of all female hosts) earn an extra $23,700, for an average total of $107,323.
Female reporters with addrem earn an average of $99,484; male reporters with addrem earn $96,126 on average.
Addrem is awarded to 5.88 per cent of women on staff and 6.56 per cent of men on staff.
In a statement to The Globe, the CBC declared it had “a good record on pay equity,” and that addrem is awarded based on “individual situations.”
The decision to award the additional remuneration “is influenced by a number of factors, such as significantly more demanding working conditions (pressure, complexity, time required), prominence (public presence, reputation, market value) and scope and impact (specific knowledge, competencies, experience).”
In an e-mail to The Globe, CBC spokesperson Douglas Chow referenced that explanation and said that “any addrem discrepancy is due to individual, gender-neutral reasons … (such as complexity of assignment).”
Asked if that suggested male hosts are receiving more complex assignments, Mr. Chow replied: “No. Every host, reporter, editor, producer role is a different situation.”
Sonya Fatah, an assistant professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism, suggested the disclosure prompts more questions. “What CBC says about ‘individual situations’ is interesting, because even with a gender-neutral approach to compensation, certain work culture realities may surface because of a historical power imbalance. Decisions made about those ‘individual situations’ may be more telling,” she said in an email to The Globe.
“Research shows that women shy away from negotiating for higher pay not because they lack confidence but because they may suffer the social cost of entering negotiations, whether those negotiations fail or succeed.”
In contrast to a number of other Canadian media companies, women occupy many of the top jobs at the CBC, including the heads of English-language services, news and TV programming. Catherine Tait will become the broadcaster’s first female president when she takes over in July.