Lennon leaked the story yesterday at the launch of the Equal Pay campaign by Dress for Success Dublin, ahead of Equal Pay Day on November 10. A report published in 2015 revealed that Ireland has a 14.8 per cent difference in median pay between men and women.
Lennon and Courtney (who own a clothing company of the same name) met while working on RTÉ’s fashion show, Off the Rails, in 2008. When Lennon became aware that Courtney was being paid more she raised the matter with bosses, reports The Independent.
When co-worker Courtney became aware of the disparity, he offered to split the difference.
Speaking to GCN, Courtney said he was surprised when he discovered Lennon was on less pay. “I thought it was a bit strange. We were employed to do the same job – it would’ve never occurred to me that I would be on more money.”
“The argument in RTÉ at the time was that I had a higher profile and was a much more experienced presenter. That was their argument, but it was strange.”
“It just felt like the right thing to do really. We hadn’t aired yet; we’d only started, so it was a brand-new endeavour for everyone. I just thought, what’s the quickest fix for everybody? And that was that. It was a small sacrifice.”
— Martina Skelly (@martina_skelly) November 1, 2017
Unsurprisingly, the Twittersphere is impressed with Courtney’s decency. “How many men would take a pay cut to ensure their female colleague was paid equally,” tweeted Martina Skelly. “Huge respect for @BrendanCourtney and @sonyalennon.”
“More respect to Brendan, less respect to RTE,” wrote another Twitter user.
More respect to Brendan, less respect to RTE.
— Daithi (@tvcritics) November 2, 2017
Next year the pair will celebrate 10 years in partnership, something Courtney attributes in part to that initial pay-gap compromise. “It was a great career starting point for a career that has lasted 10 years. I think if that hadn’t happened our immediate level of trust for each other probably wouldn’t have happened either.”
Courtney adds that the responses have been “amazing”.
“I’m slightly embarrassed about it,” he admits. “She’s my pal and it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t impressive. It was just nice.”
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