Clare Balding, Alex Jones, Emily Maitlis and more write open letter to BBC on gender pay gap

The hig-profile female presenters are calling for action now

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A number of high-profile female presenters at the BBC have added their names to a frank open letter to the BBC with regards to the gender pay gap that was revealed when the broadcaster published the earnings of its top 96 highest paid on-air talent last Wednesday

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The letter, signed by more than 40 women in the organisation – including Clare Balding, Sue Barker, Alex Jones, Emily Maitlis and Angela Rippon – urges BBC director general Tony Hall to “correct this disparity” now rather than by the previously stated deadline of 2020. It suggests that the pay gap has been known about within the organisation “for years”.

The reveal last Wednesday highlighted that the BBC’s top female earner, Claudia Winkleman, was earning upwards of £1.5m less than their highest male earner, Chris Evans, while only a third on the list of those paid over £150,000 were women. 

In addition to insisting the gender pay gap for high-earning on-air talent must be addressed, the letter also suggests that thousands of behind-the-scenes staff have their pay reviewed.

The letter reads:

“The pay details released in the Annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years… that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work. Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.

“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

“Beyond the list, there are so many other areas including production, engineering and support services and global, regional and local media where a pay gap has languished for too long. This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all, and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing. We would be willing to meet you to discuss ways in which you can correct this disparity so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination.”

Speaking to the Telegraph, Women’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey, who spent much of Saturday getting in contact with her colleagues to draw support for the letter, said that the women will now form a working group, meeting regularly to discuss the ways in which they can maintain pressure on Lord Hall with regards to the issue.

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The BBC has yet to respond to the letter.