BBC radio host Mishal Husain has grilled boss and Director-General Lord Tony Hall over the broadcaster’s gender pay gap, after details of the huge disparity between the earnings of male and female employees emerged.
The BBC was forced to publish a rundown of the annual salaries of each of its top earners, with former Top Gear host and radio presenter topping the list with a salary of around £2.25 million. By contrast, the highest-earning female celebrity earned around £500,000, with Strictly Come Dancing‘s Claudia Winkleman pulling in less than a quarter of Evans’ salary. Two thirds of the highest-earning presenters at the BBC are men.
Only a few hours removed from the BBC’s salary report, Mishal Husain was given an interview with Tony Hall on BBC Radio 4, and she used that time to ask some to ask some tough questions of her boss in regards to how he plans to address this pay gap. While Hall inevitably skirted around the issue, informing Husain that the BBC were looking at ways in which to bring the earnings of the BBC’s male and female staff without revealing how they were planning to do so, Husain held him accountable for the pay gap and continued to push forward with her line of questioning.
When directly asked by Husain how he is going to address the gender pay gap, Hall responded by instead discussing how more women had more presenting jobs under his leadership than in previous years.”When I came back to the BBC I said I wanted to get a balance between men and women presenting programs like this program”, Hall said. “Also with local radio where 14 per cent of local radio stations had women doing their breakfast shows, we’ve now got that up to 50 per cent.”
At this point Husain interrupted him: “But that is a different point to the point I’ve put to you about the pay gap,” she said, to which Hall replied: “By 2020 we’ll have equality between men and women on air, and we’ll have the pay gap sorted by then too.” He added: “One of your commentators earlier on in the program mentioned that the average gender pay gap for the UK was just over 18 per cent; our figure is 10 per cent.”
Husain then questioned whether the pay gap being eradicated by 2020 would mean that the wage bill would go up, to which Hall replied that the BBC would have to “manage within our means.”
“I’m not sure what that means in terms of managing the gender pay gap”, Husain continued. “Does that mean you’re going to be asking the men to take a pay cut?”
“We’ll be working through case-by-case to ensure that I can sit here in 2020 and say to you, look you in the eye or more importantly look our license fee payers in the eye, and say ‘we have equality of pay between men and women. ‘And by the way equality across television and radio between men and women presenting our programs, acting in our programs… and in some areas, by the way, we already have that. In drama, for example, it’s already 50/50 between men and women in their roles.”
When asked by Husain whether or not the overall pay for 100 male and female presenters could go up in order to bring an end to the gender pay gap at the BBC, Hall once again replied that the BBC would “manage within our means.”
Listen to the full BBC Radio 4 interview here, beginning at around the 1:42:00 mark.