Earlier this month the BBC published salary details of all of its on-air talent earning over £150,000. It was required to make this disclosure under the terms of its new Royal Charter.
Men Paid Significantly More
The disclosure has created a great deal of controversy, with the corporation being accused of gender inequality and discriminatory behaviour after it became apparent that the top seven most highly paid are all men, and women only account for a third of the top 96 earners, reports the Guardian.
The highest paid woman, Claudia Winkleman, is paid around £450,000, compared to the highest paid male, Chris Evans, who earns £2.2 million.
Speaking about the wide disparity, BBC director general Tony Hall insisted that progress had already been made in addressing the gender pay gap within the corporation, but acknowledged that much more needs to be done. He has apparently pledged that the gender pay gap will be closed by 2020.
Reaction to the Figures
Equality organisations reacted strongly to the existence of such a gulf between male and female pay.
“What these figures reveal is that there are barriers for women in achieving equality in pay and this raises questions about the differences in how we view and reward female and male talent,” explained Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
“This isn’t just an issue in the BBC, or just one of gender, but across the wider media industry, public sector and business,” she said. “The bigger question is what are we going to do about it? That is a challenge for us all. There needs to be greater emphasis on understanding and tackling the causes of inequalities in pay in order to really close the gaps for women, for some ethnic minority groups and for disabled people.”
“The BBC high pay data revealed today shows that women are under-represented and undervalued at the top of the corporation,” commented Sam Smithers, Chief Executive of gender equality charity Fawcett. “The question the BBC has to answer is can this be objectively justified or does this reveal institutional sexism?”
No BAME Stars Amongst Highest Paid
The BBC has also faced allegations of racial and ethnic bias after the publication revealed that no Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) stars were included amongst the highest paid.
The three highest paid BAME stars were all male, and were paid between £250,000 and £300,000. The highest paid female with a BAME background was paid between £200,000 and £250,000.
Trade union Equity has described the pay imbalances as ‘troubling’. It added that following the revelations it would ‘continue its discussions with the BBC, as it does with other broadcasters, on the issues of equality and diversity and fair pay’.
These latest revelations are a further demonstration of how women continue to suffer unequal treatment at work, not just in terms of pay but in many aspects of their employment. It is particularly troubling that this inequality still exists in such a high profile, publicly funded organisation like the BBC.
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