BBC tasks Scotland director Donalda McKinnon with helping it become 'best place for women to work'

The BBC has appointed one of its most senior female directors to lead it in its aim to be “the best place for women to work” in the UK.

BBC director general Tony Hall has given the newly created role to BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon.

In a statement released today, the BBC said MacKinnon would “lead work that aims to sweep away any barriers to women progressing, fulfilling their ambitions and reaching the top”.

The corporation said it “wants to take action swiftly and make a real difference” with MacKinnon to produce initial recommendations for Lord Hall by the end of June this year.

MacKinnon is set to consider “working practices, policies and procedures, practical support, recruitment and professional development, leadership and management development, culture and behaviours” as part of her new remit.

Staff are also being encouraged to contribute ideas and participate in the project “so no stone is left unturned”, a BBC spokesperson said.

The creation of this new position is part of the BBC’s drive to have senior management and on-air roles split evenly between men and women, and to make itself an “exemplar” for other organisations.

It comes after the corporation was forced to reveal salaries for its top-earning talent after a government prerogative last year. The figures showed the BBC had a 9 per cent gender pay gap favouring men.

BBC China editor Carrie Gracie resigned from her post at the start of the year after learning that she was paid less than other international editors at the BBC, despite having asked for equal pay when taking the job.

She told a select committee last month that the BBC’s unwillingness to acknowledge its “equal pay problem” has forced it to “belittle” contributions by women for decades.

MacKinnon said: “We have a bold ambition – we want the BBC to be the best place for women to work.

“Flexible working, jobshares and development programmes already make it easier for some, but by bringing in the very best new ideas from outside as well as inside the BBC, we can do even more and aim for everyone to reach their potential.”

Areas being focused on by the BBC include:

  • Investigating what gaps and barriers are holding back women at the BBC currently and how they should be addressed
  • Looking at the best examples from other organisations to see how the best initiatives can be implemented by the BBC
  • Considering whether there are good ideas and schemes within specific parts of the BBC which should now be rolled out more widely
  • Exploring different options for part-time and flexible working as well as the value placed on these roles
  • Establishing whether it could be made easier for people to return to work following maternity and career breaks.

Picture: BBC

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