The BBC must go further, faster, on dealing with its gender pay gap

By next April, every organisation with more than 250 employees will have to report details of their gender pay gap.

This legislation has been brought in to help address the fact that, across the UK, the hourly rate of pay is on average more than 18% higher for men than it is for women.


Also see: Public does not understand BBC's reasons for top earnings or gender pay gap, survey finds


At the BBC, our gender pay gap is around 10%. That's because we have done a lot over the past few years to drive progress forward.

Since Tony Hall arrived as director general, the proportion of female breakfast presenters across local radio, for example, has shifted from 14% to 50%.

And over the last three years, more than 60% of the top talent we have hired or promoted have been women.

However, for the BBC, any gap is an issue. As we said last week, we need to go further, faster.

Last April we committed to an equal split of men and women in all presenting and lead roles by 2020.

And last week we said that we would be closing the gender gap entirely by the same year – sooner if we can.

We are consulting with our staff over the summer on how to accelerate progress further, and when figures are published next year we are confident they will look very different.

Gender is an important issue for the BBC and we recognise we should be held to a higher standard than others and truly reflect the country we serve.

John Shield, director of communications at the BBC


Even before the releasing of data on talent pay, the BBC set out our position on the gender gap very clearly.

We went on record to say that while we are making real progress, we needed to go much faster.

And on the broader pay levels of some of the country's biggest stars, we made clear that it is the BBC’s responsibility to its audiences to employ the very best talent on air and on screen.

A recent Ipsos Mori poll of more than 1,000 UK adults showed that four out of five believe the BBC should be able to compete for the highest quality presenters, actors and reporters, even if that means paying a similar rate.

And it’s important to remember that the people we are competing against are not in the public sector, but at giants like Sky, Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

Even in a market that is getting ever more global and competitive, we have made clear and important progress on pay overall.

We have managed to bring down our bill for top talent by 10% year on year.

Over the last five years, it is down by a quarter, and the amount we pay the very highest earners has dropped by 40%.

Gender is an important issue for the BBC and we recognise we should be held to a higher standard than others and truly reflect the country we serve.

We are determined to be at the vanguard of progress and help lead the way, but the reality is that this is a pressing issue for the whole of society and every organisation will have to face up to this in the months ahead.

All organisations should now be asking how they are currently performing and what commitments they have made to drive real change.

It's certainly a priority for the BBC at the highest of levels.

John Shield is director of communications at the BBC



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