Female staff at the BBC have told the government that they face ‘veiled threats’ from the broadcaster if they attempt to question the discrepancy in pay between men and women.
Last year, a list of 96 BBC stars earning £150,000 a year or more was released, with just 34 women, compared to 62 men. It led to suggestions that the BBC’s highest-earning male presenters could see their salaries slashed in order to reduce the corporation’s gender pay gap.
A report later found that on average, men earn around 9% more than women at the BBC.
Now, as the BBC reports, more than 150 women have put forward written evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee ahead of a hearing tomorrow.
“We believe there is a wider culture of gender discrimination, which can be seen in patterns of promotion, especially after women take maternity leave,” said the group BBC Women.
“While individual BBC managers have been supportive there is still a bunker mentality in some quarters and women have experienced veiled threats made against them when they raised the subject of equal pay.”
The evidence that BBC Women have put forward to Parliament includes various testimonials, including one TV news presenter who claimed that she “had been sitting next to a man doing an identical job who was being paid tens of thousands of pounds more… I am told that we are now being paid at the same rate per day, but there is no transparency.”
An award-winning broadcaster on a flagship arts programme also claimed to earning half of her male counterpart, arguing: “When I asked for (the) pay gap to be corrected the line manager told me ‘the BBC doesn’t do equal pay’, and that in raising the issue I was being ‘aggressive’.
“I refused to back down and eventually was given the same rate as my male colleague and it was backdated”.
As well as announcing several reviews into the issue of pay, a spokesman added: “We look forward to an informed debate at the select committee based on all the facts.
“The BBC is committed to equal pay, and we don’t accept the assertion we have not been complying with the Equality Act, nor do we offer inferior contracts based on someone’s gender or race.”
They added: “We want to help women progress in their career and have set out ambitious targets to close the gender pay gap, filled by women. We’ve also set out action to achieve them.
“We have already set out how we plan to deliver real pay transparency for our staff, and today we’ll publish proposals to significantly change how we manage on-air pay so we have a clear, transparent and fair system for the future.”