When Rona Fairhead was hired as chair of the BBC Trust, many praised the move to select an experienced, multi-faceted businesswoman, but few would have predicted that her virtues would become liabilities. It has surfaced that, compared to the 110, 000 pounds ($169, 000) she received every year from the BBC, for her work on the audit committee of controversial bank HSBC, she received around 10, 000 pounds a day ($15, 000), for just fifty days of work a year, amounting to 500, 000 pounds or $769, 000 annually, according to the Daily Mail.
HSBC is currently dealing with a scandal that it provided a tax haven for the ultra-rich, following a 2012 scandal that it allowed suspected terrorists to deposit funds. A couple of questions arise about Rona Fairhead’s dual roles at the BBC and the HSBC. One is conflict of interest. Is it really right to have someone working closely with HSBC also playing an influential role in Britain’s foremost media agency, especially since the bank is being investigated by journalists? Even if all of Fairhead’s dealings are honest and above board, would the BBC feel shortchanged by the fact that Fairhead divides her energies between the BBC and HSBC, especially since she is paid five times more by the latter for less work?
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As if that isn’t enough, Fairhead also flies to American to serve on the board of PepsiCo, and for about 50 days a year, she is still paid more than the 110, 000 pounds she receives at the BBC. It seems that Fairhead may be forced to choose which job she wants to keep, before she ends up upsetting a whole lot of people.