Unequal pay is an affront to God – here's a way you can help your female colleagues

The respected BBC journalist Carrie Gracie's resignation as the broadcaster's China Editor has re-lit the firestorm about unequal pay between men and women. Gracie stood down after she discovered she was being paid tens of thousands less than men doing the same job, and accused the corporation of 'unlawful pay discrimination'.

The BBC – which was forced to publish how much its leading presenters and journalists were paid last summer – is facing a crisis, with hundreds of female employees joining a movement demanding salary parity.

And the statistics suggest the BBC is far from alone. The average hourly wage earned by women was 10.7 per cent less than that of men, according to figures from hundreds of firms published earlier this month. Some of that will be down to women doing different jobs, but it's clear that across the UK plenty of companies are getting away with paying their female employees less than male colleagues in the same roles.


Let's not beat around the bush – this is an affront to God. While wage parity might not crop up often in the Bible, it's clear that God is deeply concerned with justice at work and is angered by those who do not treat their workers fairly.

'The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him,' Proverbs 11:1 tells us. We hear the same thing in Deuteronomy 25: God 'detests' those who 'deal dishonestly'.

And in the New Testament James is scathingly furious about wealthy landowners and bosses who con their poorer workers out of a fair wage: 'Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.'

So what, you are probably saying. What has this got to do with me – I don't set my female colleague's wages, I am not able to ensure equal pay for equal work.

We can only overturn this form of injustice with a healthy dose of sunlight. Gracie was only able to launch her claim for fair pay, and then resign with aplomb when it was denied, because the BBC was made to publish its stars' salaries, proving for the first time what women have suspected for years.

Maybe the women who work in your office are being cheated out of money and paid less than the men. But if they are, they can only challenge it if they know about it. So here's one thing every man reading this can do, regardless of your situation: you can offer to tell your female colleagues what you are paid.

This is awkward, no doubt. We in Britain are allergic to talking about how much we make. Normally I'm all for a bit of quiet discretion when it comes to money, but in this instance, our prudishness about pay could be colluding in injustice. It's quite possible your employer is doing what's right – but we can only find out by overcoming our embarrassment and talking about how much we earn.

And to show I'm not all talk and no trousers, I've done this myself. Inspired by the BBC farrago, and this tweet, I recently (privately, by email) offered to share how much I was paid with all the women in my team. Yes, it was a little awkward, but honestly, it's not the end of the world.

As someone once said, all it takes for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing. And all it could take to empower our friends and colleagues to stand up to wage injustice is to do something very small – tell them the truth about what we are paid. In this instance, as in so many others, Jesus was spot on: 'Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'

Tim Wyatt is a freelance journalist specialising in faith and religion.