Female BBC presenters demand action over gender pay gap now

It follows the publication of salaries showing big discrepancies

Female BBC presenters demand action over gender pay gap now

A general view of the BBC headquarters in London. Image: Alastair Grant / AP/Press Association Images

Top female personalities at the BBC, including Irish journalist Orla Guerin, have written an open letter to its Director-General Tony Hall, calling on him to act immediately to tackle the gender pay divide.

High-profile names at the British broadcaster - including Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire and Angela Rippon - are among more than 40 women urging him to "correct this disparity" over gender pay, which they say has been known to exist within the corporation "for years".

The One Show host Alex Jones, Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce and Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis are also supporting calls to sort out pay inequality "now", rather than by Lord Hall's self-imposed 2020 timescale.

The letter follows the release of documents setting out pay for staff earning more than stg£150,000 (€167,122), which showed a sizeable gap in the earnings of the corporation's well-known male and female presenters and actors.

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topped the list on more than stg£2m (€2.2m), while the highest earning woman was Strictly's Claudia Winkleman on between stg£450,000-£499,999 (€501,368-€557,091).

The letter states female personalities are "prepared to meet" Mr Hall "so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination".

Signatories include (clockwise, from top left): Emily Maitlis, Victoria Derbyshire, Sue Barker, Alex Jones, Fiona Bruce and Clare Balding | Image: BBC

It 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."

The letter adds: "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."

In response, a BBC spokesperson says: "We have made significant changes over the last three years but need to do more. Tony Hall has pledged the BBC will go further faster.

"Across the BBC, the average pay of men is 10% higher than women. The national average is 18%.

"We are committing to closing it by 2020 - something no other organisation has committed to doing.

"The BBC's workforce has been hired over generations and this is complex and cannot be done overnight.

"We are, however, confident that when these figures are published again next year they will show significant progress towards that goal.

"Tony Hall meets staff all the time and will of course meet individuals to hear their thoughts as we work to accelerate change."

The full list of signatories is:
Aasmah Mir
Katya Adler
Anita Anand
Wendy Austin
Samira Ahmed
Clare Balding
Emma Barnett
Zeinab Badawi
Sue Barker
Rachel Burden
Annabel Croft
Martine Croxall
Victoria Derbyshire
Lyse Doucet
Jane Garvey
Joanna Gosling
Fi Glover
Carrie Gracie
Orla Guerin
Karin Giannone
Mishal Husain
Lucy Hockings
Geeta Guru-Murthy
Kirsty Lang
Gabby Logan
Martha Kearney
Carolyn Quinn
Kasia Madera
Katty Kay
Emily Maitlis
Louise Minchin
Sarah Montague
Jenni Murray
Annita McVeigh
Elaine Paige
Sally Nugent
Angela Rippon
Ritula Shah
Sarah Smith
Kate Silverton
Charlotte Smith
Kirsty Wark
Fiona Bruce
Alex Jones