By Cassandra Shaffer
Last week, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was required to release the salaries of its highest-paid talent under new UK government regulations. In doing so, the media company revealed a substantial wage gap between its top male and female talent.
In an effort to be more transparent with taxpayer money, the UK government forced the BBC, a publicly funded company, to release a report that outlined the wages of its on-air employees earning at least 150,000 pounds (approximately $197,000) a year. Of the 96 names that were disclosed in this report, two-thirds of them are white men. The report revealed that the top women talent is paid hundreds of thousands of pounds less than their male co-stars for proportionate work. For example, news anchor Huw Edwards is paid over 550,000 pounds a year, which is 200,000 pounds more than fellow anchor Fiona Bruce.
For a corporation that is widely respected around the world, and is considered to be a leader in its field, the findings of this report is understandably troublesome. The BBC is the world’s oldest national broadcasting organization and is the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. According to the media company’s 2014 annual report, the BBC employs nearly 21,000 people.
On the brink of sexual discrimination charges, the BBC’s Director-General Tony Hall vowed that the company is working to decrease the company’s 10 percent gender wage gap by 2020. However, in an open letter from more than 40 of the BBC’s leading female presenters, employees demand that the corporation close the pay gap more quickly. “You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years,” the group broadcasters wrote. “We all want to go on the record to call on you to act now.”
For now, over a dozen women have formed a working group to study and report on the BBC’s efforts towards equal pay. One of its members, sports presenter Clare Balding, says that the goal of the group is to fight for those who have “challenged the system and have been ignored”. “I don’t want women to be undervalued or for bosses to assume that they can get away with treating us as discount items.”