Why BBC’s gender pay gap is a warning for all businesses

Data released today shows a definite pay gap between top BBC male and female presenters. Only a third of the 96 staff members earning over £150k are female and, of the top ten highest earners there is only one woman.

In order to comply with the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations, as well as Prime Minister Theresa May’s rules requiring the identification of BBC staff earning more than £150,000 a year, the corporation has today released the salaries of 96 of its top stars. The total pay for those on the list is almost £30 million.

The data released today shows a definite pay gap between top BBC male and female presenters. Only a third of the 96 staff members earning over £150,000 are female and, of the top ten highest earners there is only one woman – Claudia Winkleman who comes in 8th place earning £450-499k, just 20 per cent of the salary taken home by Chris Evans, the man at the top of the list.

Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall, has apologised for this, saying: “Is this where we want to be? No. Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster? Most certainly.”

“The fact that the BBC’s highest earners are mostly male shows a common theme across the labour market – the higher up the organisation, the more males and fewer females there are.  The Gender Pay Gap reporting rules require that the proportions of males and females across 4 quartiles of the business need to be produced.  The BBC figures released today further demonstrate the common theme that organisations are ‘top-heavy’ with male employees,”Enrique Garcia, employment law consultant for the ELAS Group, said.

“While on paper, there does appear to be a huge difference in male and female salaries at the BBC there may actually be some logical explanations, at least for some. When you have two colleagues who do the same job, for example Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce who have co-presented BBC News since 1999, and the man earns more than the woman (£200,000 more in this instance) then red flags are raised,’ he added. “If Fiona Bruce has equal pay concerns then the BBC would need to demonstrate that they have a material factor justifying the difference; given that she also hosts the Antiques Roadshow and other programmes on the BBC there appear to be legitimate questions that need to be asked.”

Chris Evans and Claudia Winkleman do very different jobs so the difference could be explained, but when you look at presenters who do comparable jobs it’s a different story, Garcia explained. For example, Matt Baker and Alex Jones co-present The One Show but are shown to be in different pay brackets. Matt Baker is listed as being paid £450-499k whereas Alex Jones takes home £400-449k. If Alex Jones had equal pay concerns the BBC would need to demonstrate that they have a material factor justifying the difference. Garcia believes that the fact Matt Baker also hosts Countryfile will be used as the defence of material factor.

There is also a big gap between the two presenters of the 5 live Breakfast show, Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden. Nicky Campbell (male) is listed as being paid £400-449k whereas Rachel Burden does not appear on the list, meaning she earns <£150k.

“When you add up the wages of the top 10 male earners and the top 10 female earners the difference is shocking. Taking the low end of each pay bracket, the top 10 male presenters take home a total of £8.4million while the top 10 female presenters take home less than half of this – £3.2million. I have no doubt there will be a certain amount of outrage both from the public and within the BBC itself,” Garcia added.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the gender pay gap for all UK employees, both full and part-time, in 2016, was 18.1 per cent.

Incoming gender pay gap legislation will cover about 9,000 employers with 15 million staff – about half of the UK workforce. However, if current pay trends persist, gender equitable pay won’t occur until 2059. Lord Hall has said that he wants to close the gender pay gap at the BBC and have equality on screen and radio by 2020; over the last three years 63 per cent of new people and those who have been promoted on TV and radio were women.

All companies with more than 250 employees must publish pay data, including bonuses, for all staff before April 2018. They are not required to explain any gender pay gap which is shown, although failure to do so could lead to poor reputation.

Gender pay gap reporting regulations only apply to employers with over 250 staff. In a group of companies, they will only apply to those parts of the group with over 250 staff rather than the group as a whole.

Employers with more than 250 employees are obliged to publish:

  1. The difference between the mean hourly rate of pay for male full-pay relevant employees and that of female full-pay relevant employees
  2. The difference between the median hourly rate of pay for male full-pay relevant employees and that of female full-pay relevant employees
  3. The difference between the mean bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees
  4. The difference between the median bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees
  5. The proportions of male and female relevant employees who were paid bonus pay
  6. The proportions of male and female full-pay relevant employees in the lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands

The calculation used to reach the hourly rate of pay is not as simple and straight forward as it sounds and employers are required to use a specific method for calculating this rate. There are certain things which need to be taken into account such as allowances, and certain exclusions, such as shift premium pay.

Companies don’t need to publish their calculations, just the six pieces of information listed above. They are also not required to explain any gender pay gap, if one is shown, but as we’ve seen with today’s BBC figures, there can be huge fallout and potential reputational damage where a large gap is shown with no explanation.

https://staging.growthbusiness.co.uk/4-questions-ask-get-gender-pay-gap-reporting-right-2550353/

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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