For the first time, the BBC released the various salaries earned by its stars showing what many of the women at the BBC suspected – they are being paid less for the same work. The figures were published in the corporation’s annual report and clearly show that two-thirds of the people who earned over £150,000 were both male and white.
Needless to say, this pay gap has angered many of the stars, anchors, journalists, and media personalities prompting them to write a letter addressed to Tony Hall, the director general at BBC. Among the women who signed the letter were Clare Balding, Sue Barker, Angela Rippon, Lyse Doucet, Jane Garvey, Emily Maitlis, Mishal Husain, Zeinab Badawi, Katya Adler, and Sarah Montague.
The letter starts off by explaining that they have always suspected that they were paid less and these figures only proved their suspicions correct. The letter states, “The pay details released in the annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years…that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work. Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organization that prides itself on its values.”
They continue to say, “You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now. Beyond the list, there are so many other areas — including production, engineering and support services and global, regional and local media — where a pay gap has languished for too long.”
The letter concludes, “This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all and for an organization that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing. We would be willing to meet you to discuss ways in which you can correct this disparity so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination.”
The list not only revealed the salary of the BBC’s highest paid celebrity, Chris Evans, who hosts BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show, but it also revealed that BBC’s highest paid female star, Claudia Winkleman, the host of Strictly Come Dancing, only earns between £450,000 – £499,999, compared to Evans, who earns at least £2 m.
Hall has promised to work on reducing the pay gap, saying that closing the gender gap is a “personal priority” and made sure to note that everyone would notice a big change in next year’s report. He also said, “I have committed the BBC to closing the gap by 2020 and if we can get there earlier then we will. We are not, however, making a standing start. Work is already well underway across the organization to help achieve this. There will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the autumn.”
Prime Minister Theresa May even let her outrage be known saying, “We’ve seen the way the BBC is paying women less for doing the same job. What’s important is that the BBC looks at the question of paying men and women the same for doing the same job.”
Hopefully BBC has gotten a wake up call they can’t afford to ignore, and will start working on paying its male and female stars the same amount for doing the same job.
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