The BBC finds itself under the gender pay inequality spotlight


As from 6 April 2017, employers with more than 250-staff are required to publish gender-related financial figures to include gender pay gap (mean and median averages); gender bonus gap (mean and median averages); proportion of men and women receiving bonuses and the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisations pay structure.

I don’t think many of us would deny this is a positive step towards establishing a truer picture of gender pay inequality. Nor would many of us deny that such a thing exists. But when the BBC released its figures to show that its top seven earners were all male (Chris Evans topped that heady list with earnings between £2.2m and £2.5 and Steve Wright sat in 7th place with earnings listed between £500,000 to £549,999), it stirred up a bit of a commotion.

In fact, it caused some 40 female signatories to write an open letter to the BBC’s director general – Tony Hall – to “act now” to deal with the gender pay gap.

But is it as clear as that? If we take a step back, one could draw the conclusion that there’s also a pay gap between those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds with George Alagiah, Jason Mohammad and Trevor Nelson being amongst the highest BAME presenters, each earning between £250,000 and £300,000.

Certainly, both areas are worth exploring. But rather than writing the BBC off as an antiquated, gender / BAME discriminator, should we not have all the facts? Could we not argue that celebrities and their salaries are partly a reflection of the value we – as viewers and listeners of the BBC – place on their popularity? If they weren’t so popular, they wouldn’t be paid as much. So, in effect, we’re contributing to this seemingly unfair disparity in pay.

Perhaps what would be far more meaningful, is to get an understanding of the difference between men and women’s hourly wages across the organisation, so that we understand if gender pay inequality is also prevalent at the lower-income level.

That said, we can see why the release of these figures has been surrounded by controversy. There is clearly a male / female pay gap and that can’t be blindly ignored. And, in fairness to the BBC, it has pledged to achieve equality between men and women on air by 2020.

BBC’s Newsnight programme said ‘Quite a lot of men have been taking pay cuts; John Humphrys said that today on air.’ And pay cuts are certainly part of the solution, as it’s something that James Purnell, BBC director of radio and education, has highlighted.

But whether these male celebrities will simply accept these pay cuts as being right and just, or simply head off to the next highest bidder – after all there are many other commercial channels that they can go to – will be fascinating to watch.

We asked Matthew Harradine, Director or totaljobs, to give us his thoughts “The revelation this week that there is a significant gender pay disparity amongst the BBC’s leading talent is a sad reflection of a wider, societal issue.

Ahead of the introduction of gender pay gap reporting, research from totaljobs discovered that one third of employers (32%) weren’t reviewing salaries across gender to safeguard against discrimination. The research also found that salary information across roles and genders was not available among 58% of employers and that 82% of employers were not reviewing their gender equality/equal pay policy.

"Since its introduction we hope things have improved, but it’s clear that there could be further revelations to come as more companies publish their data. In the meantime, it’s still shocking that such a large, high-profile, publicly funded employer has such disparities in what it pays male and female employees performing largely similar roles, but we hope that the transparency encourages change.”

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

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Anonymous Date: Jul 25, 2017

Surely some of the pay gap in the case of the BBC can be explained by some presenters etc working more than one job for the BBC?

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