Last month, for the first time, the BBC published the salaries of its highest-paid stars in their 2016/17 Annual Report.
The decision to publish the salaries was part of the government’s new royal charter, which requested that the BBC disclose the names and pay of its staff earning over £150,000 in order to receive the license fee for another 11 years.
Whilst the BBC arguably didn’t have a choice in the matter, publishing its salaries was a very brave and critical step for the organisation. In today’s modern world, organisations are more dependent on their relationships with their stakeholders than ever before: there’s a greater focus and need for organisations to be transparent in all that they do but also ethical and accountable. With large organisations required to publish their gender pay gap reports by Spring 2018, there’s also a responsibility on those who represent Britain to lead the way in promoting a culture of honesty and open communication but also best practice in addressing these issues.
In publishing their Annual Report the BBC identified a substantial difference in the salaries of male and female celebrities. According to their report, two-thirds of the BBC’s stars earning more than £150,000 are men – with Chris Evans topping the list at £2.2 million. In comparison, Claudia Winkleman was the highest-paid female celebrity, earning between £450,000 and £500,000. As a result, more than 40 BBC celebrities have called upon the corporation to correct the gender pay gap. In an open letter, they have outlined that the pay gap has languished for too long and the BBC is an organisation that “prides itself on its values” and has the chance to “do the right thing”.
The topic of gender pay is of great interest to the public and it is clear that organisations are not alone in their need to address this challenge. The BBC certainly has work to do and it is positive to hear BBC director general Tony Hall announce that “work is well underway to resolve the pay gap”.
There is an opportunity for the BBC to set the standard for organisations and lead the way in a new age of equality.