Thursday 23 November 2017

Brendan Courtney 'split the difference' when Sonya Lennon was paid less than him for RTE's Off the Rails

Sean O'Grady

Sonya Lennon has revealed how she was paid less than fellow TV star Brendan Courtney when they co-hosted RTE's Off The Rails.

The presenting duo, who own clothing label Lennon Courtney, presented the fashion show in 2008 on the national broadcaster and discovered during their tenure that they were not paid equally.

Lennon said she "flagged it" with her bosses and the pair lobbied to be paid the same.

"I was very lucky that I was working with a man who really valued equality in all ways and set the record straight and levelled the playing field for us," said Lennon.

"Brendan said, 'I will split the difference', and that's what happened."

It emerged in recent months that RTE presenters Sharon Ni Bheolain and Bryan Dobson were not paid the same for their work on the Six One News, with Ni Bheolain earning up to €80,000 less than Dobson.

When contacted, an RTE spokesperson responded that they do not comment on individual salaries.

Speaking at the launch of the month-long Equal Pay campaign by Dress for Success Dublin, Lennon said it can be hard for women to raise the subject of pay in the workplace.

"The issues begin at the first negotiations for a job. If you go in at a lower rate than your male counterpart, the chasm widens throughout your career and hits you very hard at the other end with the pension," she said.

"It gets sort of worse as you get older. The first thing to do is to start training your negotiating muscles so you get the best deal on your first job.

Equal pay campaign
Equal pay campaign
Brendan Courtney

"That's not always easy and some sectors are very rigid.

"I think it's about being comfortable talking about money.

"Openness is everything.

"Even if you're in the corporate world, it's important to know what the benchmarks are and what people are on around you," she added.

Lennon hopes men will aid in making sure their female co-workers are paid fairly.

"The world is made up of men who understand that this is wrong and men who don't understand that it's wrong.

"I think it's about lobbying with the men who do understand it and work together," she told the Herald.

The RTE presenter added that if women enter the work force on a lower pay than men it can harm their confidence later on.

"Our job is to support women in the work place so they can support themselves in the work place and be economically independent," she said.

"If they're entering the work place not equal, it can be very hard for them to have the confidence to succeed.

"We are levelling that playing pitch now," she said.

November 10 has been designated as Ireland's Equal Pay Day.

Dress For Success will hold a public panel discussion on the day at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin's Temple Bar.

More information on Equal Pay Day can be found on dressforsuccessdublin.org.

Herald

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