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Ex-TalkTalk Security Leader to Take on Firm in Unequal Pay Dispute

A former TalkTalk executive who led the company’s program to recover from a major 2015 breach is crowdfunding legal fees to bring a landmark equal pay case against the ISP.

Rebecca Burke worked as program director for the embattled UK firm as part of its Top 50 Leadership Team to deliver the top 10 highest priority programs for the business.

These included a strategy to bounce back from the breach in which hackers managed to access the personal details of over 156,000 customers, including 15,000 who also had their financial data exposed.

The ISP was eventually fined £400,000 by privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for serious failings in its security processes which led to the incident.

However, despite her experience of over two decades working in various public and private sector organizations, Burke alleged she was being paid significantly less at the firm than some male colleagues.

“In May 2017 I was shocked to discover that I had been singled out for redundancy. The suspicious circumstances led me through a slow and painful appeals process that eventually exposed the fact that TalkTalk had been paying me 40% less salary and 50% less bonus than the three other male Programme Directors that were in my team doing the same job,” she explained on her crowdfunding page.

“Myself and my family have endured years of financial and emotional stress in this fight for justice against a giant corporation. I have sacrificed my career, sanity and financial stability because I want to help build a fairer future for our young women and girls by holding our UK businesses to account when they break the equal pay laws that women fought so hard for 50 years ago.”

A personally funded tribunal in 2018 was postponed after Burke’s barrister issued an unusual request for the panel to stand down on the grounds that it was hostile to her case.

She has already received support from BBC journalist, Carrie Gracie, women’s rights group The Fawcett Society and Sam Walker, who won her equal pay and unfair dismissal case against the Co-Op Group in 2018.

The news of Burke’s tribulations will be a PR blow for a cybersecurity industry struggling to become more gender diverse. The latest figures suggest women comprise just a quarter (24%) of roles globally.

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