BBC's gender pay shame acts as warning

Simon Rhodes
Simon Rhodes

An employment law expert says employers need to work faster to close the gender pay gap, after the BBC revealed its highest earning male presenter earned more than four times as much as its highest paid female presenter.

Simon Rhodes, a partner at Trethowans, says the recent revelations should act as a warning to local businesses, with new laws requiring them to declare their gender pay gaps if they employ 250 people or more.

It was revealed  that the BBC paid Chris Evans between £2.2m and £2.25m in 2016/17, while Claudia Winkleman was paid between £450,00 and £500,000.  Simon says that while some additional factors need to be taken into account, for example the list not taking into account stars paid through independent production companies, it’s clear that work is needed to address the gender pay gap.

He said: “On the face of it, there is gender discrimination at play here. Some might say that these salaries are purely based on commercial considerations.  They may point to the fact Chris Evans earned considerably more than many other male presenters too. Commercial considerations such as popularity with viewers, show ratings and how well stars negotiate will always play a part in determining salaries.  

“However, looking at the overall statistics, about two-thirds of stars earning more than £150,000 from the BBC are male. That seems to show that there is either a glass ceiling preventing access to the top jobs, equal access but a gender pay gap when you get there, or a lack of access and a gender pay gap.”

The BBC’s Director of Radio and Education has said that pay cuts for its male stars has to be part of the solution.  Simon says: “The BBC appears to be ready to address equality on pay. That is encouraging.”

Simon adds that the BBC’s pay list points towards further inequality. “It is also notable that the highest paid Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) stars were paid between £250,000 and £300,000,” he says. “So there appears to be race pay gap too.  It also begs the question as to whether there is a disability pay gap?  It is only a matter of time before all employers have to report on these statistics as well as gender.”

Simon concludes: ”Interestingly Chris Evans appears to have earned, from the taxpayer funded BBC, 12 times as much as the Prime Minister, who is also funded by the taxpayer.  What will other public sector employees, in the Police, Armed Forces, NHS and Fire Service think?  Equality of pay has many angles.  It would seem that there is still a long way to go to address any of them.”

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