It’s not uncommon to hear about the ways in which professional women at all levels are being paid less than their male counterparts for the same jobs. This has been a particularly hot topic in recent news among women who work in entertainment and broadcasting. Just recently, a group of 170 female BBC employees took action in exposing BBC’s illegal and discriminatory pay practices in order to get the pay and benefits they know they deserve.
With the common knowledge that white women make 75 cents to a white man’s dollar, black women 63 cents, and hispanic/latinx women 54 cents, it makes sense that more women are vocalizing their frustrations with how they’re compensated for their labor. Many female entertainers, including celebrities like Mo’nique, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jessica Chastain, and Michelle Williams, have come forward to expose the extreme reality of the pay cuts that they and their colleagues are subjected to.
According to an article published by The Guardian, the 170 women who are demanding retribution for BBC’s discriminatory pay policy claim that many women who worked for the broadcasting company found themselves bound to unfair contracts that didn’t provide benefits such as paid sick days or maternity leave.
These women have also experienced blatant disregard or gaslighting in the event that they confronted their superiors about missing wages; claiming to have been pegged as aggressive for even bringing up the topic, “[a]n unnamed national radio presenter said a manager had told her that ‘the BBC doesn’t do equal pay’ and that she was being ‘aggressive’ for raising the subject.”
BBC has a track record of non-transparency with its female employees about their pay policy; it was discovered back in July 2017 that two-thirds of BBC’s highest paid broadcasters were men. Of the 12 most highly-paid men working for BBC who earn upwards of £1M, their female counterparts make up to a tenth of that sum. The BBC’s highest paid female star Claudia Winkleman earns only £500,000 compared to its highest paid male star Chris Evans’s £2.2M.
The extremes between the earnings of male and female BBC employees resulted in the resignation of longtime employees such as BBC China editor Carrie Gracie, who went on to pen an open letter to BBC license fee payers that included declarations such as: “… unacceptably high pay for top presenters and managers but also an indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work. These revelations damaged the trust of BBC staff. For the first time, women saw hard evidence of what they’d long suspected, that they are not being valued equally.”
While resigning from their positions at BBC was a viable option for some, many other women took action in the form of lawsuits, as is applicable to at least 120 BBC employees pushing for apologies, back pay, and an overall change in the company’s pay structure.
Gender-based pay discrimination has continued to be a hurdle over which women of all backgrounds have had to leap for as long as they can remember, but through actions that confront the toxic culture of devaluing women’s work and contributions in the workplace, the prospect of achieving equal pay across the board for all women may be closer than we think.
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