Professor Mark Learmonth from Durham University Business School, has said that the case of the BBC when male presenters are paid far higher than women presenters demonstrates “a phenomenon that social scientists have been going on about for years”, namely “how men are over-valued and women undervalued even when they do exactly the same thing”. On Wednesday the BBC had revealed that its top earner, radio presenter Chris Evans, is paid between £2.2m and £2.25m, which is more than four times the corporation’s highest earning woman Claudia Winkleman.
Near the top of the list is Radio 4’s Today presenter John Humphrys, who admitted his salary of £600,000 was hard to justify. “What do I do? On paper, absolutely nothing that justifies that huge amount of money, if you compare me with lots of other people who do visibly. If a doctor saves a child’s life, if a nurse comforts a dying person, a fireman rushes into Grenfell Tower, then of course you could argue that compared with that sort of thing I’m not worth tuppence ha’penny. However we operate in a market place.”
Legal teams are saying that the BBC may be in breach of equal pay laws if it is unable to show that men and women are being paid equally for doing the same or comparable jobs.
What is the gender pay gap? The pay gap is the percentage difference between average hourly earnings for men and women. Across the UK men earned 18.1% more than women in April 2016 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This figure is calculated on a 1% sample of employees’ jobs. It takes the median for men and women, which is the figure at the mid-point of the range of earnings. The pay gap isn’t the same as equal pay. Equal pay – that men and women doing the same job should be paid the same – has been a legal requirement for 47 years.
The gap between men and women’s earning for both full and part-time work has fallen from 27.5% in 1997 to 18.1% in 2016. With the pay gap getting smaller the unfairness is reducing. What is also quite interesting is that if you only look at full-time workers the pay gap drops to 9.4% whereas for part-time workers the pay gap favours women, who now earn 6% more than men. Statistics are never as straightforward as you think!
There are other areas of discrimination which the BBC look to be foul of too, such as racial discrimination, with white employees appearing to earn more than BAME stars (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background). Trade union Equity said in a statement: “The apparent pay gaps in gender and for those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background are troubling.” George Alagiah, Jason Mohammad and Trevor Nelson are the highest paid BAME presenters, each receiving between £250,000 and £300,000.