More than 200 of the BBC’s most influential on- and off-air talent have called for full pay transparency at the British public broadcaster to end the corporation’s current HR woes.
Stars such as Mariella Frostrup, Naga Munchetty and Shaun Keaveny have written to BBC Director General Tony Hall to encourage him to reveal exactly what all staff earn and how pay is decided.
The TV and radio hosts, as well as producers and reporters, said that this would be the “fastest, cheapest and fairest way to begin to tackle unequal pay” at the corporation. It comes as the BBC remains at the center of a row over gender equality and pay disparity, which kicked off when China Editor Carrie Grace resigned her position after she found out she was paid “significantly” less than a number of her male counterparts.
“The BBC just needs to change the expectations of people working here, by telling them that in future their pay will be transparent. The BBC says it wants to be ‘the most transparent organisation when it comes to pay’. Full publication of individual salaries and benefits (and other payments through BBC Studios and all commercial arms) would have a lasting positive impact on the culture of the BBC and beyond,” they wrote in the letter, which was first published in the Guardian newspaper.
The group noted that full transparency would be the “far most effective way” to uncover pay discrimination of all kinds against ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, or on the basis of age or any other legally protected characteristic.
Last summer, the BBC published figures for talent earning over £150,000 for the first time as part of its Annual Report. It highlighted the disparity between male and female talent; for instance, actor Derek Thompson, who plays Charlie Fairhead in Casualty, was paid between £350,000 (US$484,000) and £400,000 (US$553,00), while Amanda Mealing, who plays Connie Beauchamp in the same hospital drama, was paid £250,000 (US$345,000) to £300,000 (US$414,000). It subsequently emerged that, on average, men were being paid 9.3% more than women across the organisation.
Hall has spent the last few weeks urgently trying to solve this problem. Last week, he launched a review, led by BBC Scotland boss Donalda MacKinnon, designed to “sweep away” any barriers to women progressing at the corporation and last month published a five-point plan to help “create a fairer and more equal” organization, carried out in association with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The group concluded, “We love the BBC and believe in its values of transparency and accountability. We want to work with you to help the BBC live up to those values, and to restore the trust of staff and audiences in the BBC’s stated commitments.”
A BBC spokeswoman said, “We already have a project planned to look at transparency at the BBC which will consider – among other things – whether all salaries from the licence fee should be published and what other measures are necessary that wouldn’t put the BBC at a competitive disadvantage. The BBC already publishes more information about itself, its operations and its staff than any other broadcaster. We are already committed to going further and faster than any other organisation in closing our gender pay gap.”