Presenters Victoria Derbyshire, Carrie Gracie, Mariella Frostrup, Naga Munchetty and Dan Snow have joined more than 200 BBC staff calling for the broadcaster to publish individual salaries and benefits of its workers.
The group has co-signed a letter, obtained by The Guardian, urging BBC director general Tony Hall for “full pay transparency” at the corporation. It outlines that the move would “uncover pay discrimination of all kinds” and eventually save the broadcaster money as high salaries would become “even harder to justify”.
“It’s time for full pay transparency at the BBC,” it reads. “Transparency about what everyone earns, about how pay is decided, and also about promotion and recruitment across all areas of the corporation.
“It’s the fastest, cheapest, fairest way to begin to tackle unequal pay at the BBC.”
The letter comes after a published list of the Corporation’s 96 top earners revealed a significant gender salary gap. The BBC pay packet report revealed almost two-thirds of its on-screen stars earning more than £150,000 a year were male – 62 men to 34 women.
Following the revelations, the BBC promised a “new framework” on pay but said an investigation by accountancy firm PwC found “no evidence of systemic gender discrimination”.
The full letter reads…
It’s time for full pay transparency at the BBC. Transparency about what everyone earns, about how pay is decided, and also about promotion and recruitment across all areas of the Corporation.
There is no legal bar to doing this. 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.
1. It’s the fastest, cheapest and fairest way to begin to tackle unequal pay at the BBC. When everyone knows exactly what everyone is paid, it is easy to identify comparators and start conversations about value. Transparency is the tool that can stop the BBC breaking the law on Equal Pay.
2. At the same time, transparency is by far the 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.
3. It’s also the best way to uncover pay differences linked to characteristics which may not be legally protected but which employers committed to fairness should want to monitor, such as bias linked to class, educational background or regional origin.
4. There is increasing evidence that pay transparency is good for employers, not just for employees. We believe it will save a lot of money. Our pay structure is likely to flatten as very high salaries become even harder to justify. And the cost of the BBC’s current approach is not just financial, it has also eroded trust and morale. This change in culture will attract and retain great people, because people want to work in places where they are heard and respected, and where they understand how their pay is set.
5. The BBC spends public money. The public deserves to know how that money is spent.
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.
The BBC has released a statement in response to the letter:
“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. We have set out real targets and have announced a project led by Donalda MacKinnon to do all we can to help the progression and culture for women within the organisation.
“BBC Studios and Worldwide are fully commercial businesses and are not funded by the licence fee. It’s not public money. They have to compete in the commercial market on a level playing field against other commercial business. It would be wrong to put them at a competitive disadvantage at a time when we should be doing all we can to support British content against the global west coast giants.”