The release of BBC’s top earning salaries has rightly provoked furore on the recurring debate around gender pay gap. The list revealed just under a third were women, with only two women featured in the top 10, who in addition are paid considerably less than the top male earners.
Pay discrepancy between men and women is sadly no new revelation, and in media unequal pay is the norm. The prime reason why BBC has attracted this anger however is because it is funded by the TV licence payer, and how that money is used must be right and justified.
Being publicly owned, the BBC have a true responsibility to be the beacon of fairness, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we need it to. As the only broadcaster forced to disclose their figures, one does wonder the many more shielded inequalities to be discovered. Cries of disgust from the likes of Daily mail and The Sun seem out of character when I’m aware of the perpetual sexism it churns out, and that Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre raked in £1.5m in 2016, with Rupert Murdoch and chief executive Robert Thompson taking home several million each year.
And that’s the real problem in this BBC debate – income inequality. The BBC are just the peering tip of a giant iceberg.
I hope this empowers ALL women to go into work tomorrow, look their boss in the eye and ask if they are getting paid the same as the men. https://t.co/zp8lNJQKJ3
— Andrea Catherwood (@acatherwoodnews) July 23, 2017
Should we be outraged that Claudia Winkleman at £500,000 makes £1.5 million less than her male counterpart? Maybe, but maybe not, a list of celebrity names offers a warped representation of reality. What should also be scrutinised is how an elite class can earn more than five times the average UK salary of £27,600, how at least 400 BBC employees earn less than a hundredth of what Chris Evans is paid, how an assistant can be paid less than 18k in the same organisation, and how this mirrors the reality of chief executives making 20 times more than the lowest-paid staff in every public sector organisation… I don’t have much more hope for the private sector.
Income inequality is a complicated web of woven threads that hold back various groups from class, race, and gender. When we look at BBC top earners, 45% went to private schools, compared to 7% of the nation, and alarmingly only 10 ethnic minorities make the list… peculiarly enough, the voices of these underrepresented groups were lost amongst all the sound and fury.
BBC diversity targets and monitoring programmes are failing women, BAME and the working class, and a sincere reflection and debate is needed – by everyone. Let this revealing rich list be the trigger for change in workplaces everywhere, lifting the veil on pay disparity and changing the view that extreme income inequality is an unavoidable norm. Employer or employee, if you have strong views on the BBC pay row, then take that passion and direct it to the workplace you know, and ask: how can things be more fair and equal for everyone?