The Independent has told staff its gender pay gap is better than that at the Financial Times and Telegraph, which had two of the highest rates among newspapers, but has still not revealed the actual figure.
In a meeting with staff last week, Press Gazette understands the salary gap was referred to as “statistically insignificant”, although staff were told there were too few women in senior roles.
A source said the Independent would also voluntarily reveal its gender pay gap next year, despite falling short of the 250 employee threshold set by the Government that requires companies to publish the figure.
An Independent spokesperson said it would not comment on discussions between staff and management, but added: “The Independent is absolutely committed to encouraging talented journalists – regardless of gender or background – to fulfil their potential here.”
The Telegraph had the highest mean gender pay gap among publishers at 35 per cent, with the Financial Times the sixth highest at 24.4 per cent. When the median, or middle salary, is taken the Telegraph’s pay gap falls to 23.36 per cent and the Financial Times’s to 19.4 per cent.
Another source at the Independent said the newsbrand’s decision not to reveal its pay gap was “ disappointingly predictable” and added that there is a “behind-closed-doors culture” regarding pay in the newsroom.
They said: “Whatever the gender pay gap here proves to be, it is the opaque structure of the business that needs to change before more talented people walk out the door.”
Another said talking about salaries was “like a taboo subject”, but added: “More and more people are asking each other what they are on. I think we all get the picture we need to start asking each other what we earn.”
A number of initiatives are understood to be underway at the Independent to tackle the gender pay gap, including blind CVs for job applications, mentoring, and a women’s development programme.
An Independent spokesperson said: “We regularly hold open and inclusive meetings, where all staff are welcome, at which senior managers update the team on key developments, and at which staff themselves make presentations and have the chance to ask questions.
“We also regularly catch up with our staff in the US, Moscow, Europe and the Middle East.
“We also hold regular one-to-ones between staff members and managers. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own ideas to the table and to follow through on many of them, whether those ideas are about news stories, editorial projects, or cultural issues such as the gender pay gap.
“We are incredibly proud of the team we have, and our collective achievements in making The Independent’s transition into a digital pure-play publisher such a success.
“It is because of teamwork, talent, creativity and commitment that we are able to be both promoting internally and hiring externally even at a difficult time for publishers, many of whom are having to make cuts or even face closure.”