In the wake of the BBC releasing its salaries, WE call on other broadcasters to do the same
Published 21 July 2017
Dear Public Service Broadcasters
- Sir Peter Bazalgette and Carolyn McCall (ITV),
- Charles Gurassa and Alex Mahon (Channel 4),
- Margaret Ford and Rob Woodward (STV),
- David Lynn (Channel 5),
- Huw Jones (S4C),
Following the publication of BBC salaries this week, the Women’s Equality Party calls on you - the holders of Channel 3 licences (including ITV and STV), Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C - to follow the BBC’s lead in exposing and tackling the gender pay gap. Each of your channels are public service broadcasters and are therefore required to promote equality of opportunity between men and women, as well as representing diversity and alternative viewpoints. The pay gap undermines those goals.
The scale of the gender pay gap revealed by the BBC - in which two-thirds of top earners were men - was truly shocking, not least because the BBC is unlikely to be the main culprit, despite assurances from Piers Morgan on Wednesday that that ITV is a "shining example of not just equality but women dominating". The BBC’s revelation captured the public imagination, blowing apart the idea that the gender pay gap is a feminist myth that wilfully ignores the “choices” that women make. Because no amount of experience, age, mentoring, childlessness, leaning in or speaking up would have changed the outcome of Wednesday’s report.
Women are paid less because they are considered to be worth less. The gender pay gap is a symptom of the structural barriers that women face and can be seen at every level of working life and across every industry. It thrives on the unconscious bias that daily goes unchallenged by the surplus of white men in decision-making roles, and is magnified by occupational segregation, unequal caring responsibilities and pervasive stereotypes that intersect with class, race, age, sexuality and disability.
We have public service broadcasting in the UK because we recognise the fundamental role that culture and media can play in examining and shaping our society and economy. The idea, therefore, that broadcasters should tackle gender inequality only to the extent that they are in receipt of taxpayers money is flawed and indolent. They should do so because they have the privilege of being able to do something about it, and because it is within their remit.
Transparency is a great starting point. Because however uncomfortable it may be in the short-term, it doesn’t come close to the agonising suspicion that your colleague is being paid more than you for the same work. For the women that featured on the BBC’s top earners’ list (and those that did not), information is power. For those that will never come close to featuring on a top earners’ list it matters too - the nurses visiting food banks, for example, whose profession is undervalued in direct proportion to the number of women it employs. Because inequality anywhere is a threat to women everywhere.
Already the status quo is kicking back. In the past 24 hours, articles have been written by other media organisations to prove the gender pay gap exists because female agents aren’t tough enough, or because female graduates don’t know their worth. BBC Studios has found a loophole that means many of the top earners will no longer have to publish their pay.
But instead of business as usual, we are asking you to seize the turbulence. Instead of reporting from the sidelines on the BBC’s comeuppance, tugging at the seams of the Charter and bartering for cut-price female talent, other public service broadcasters must now join the BBC in making this matter. We are asking you to:
- Publish the salaries of your top earners, including those contracted through independent production companies
- Require annual gender pay gap reporting for the whole organisation to be broken down by age, employment status, ethnicity, race, disability and working hours, as well as gathering data on retention during - and up to a year after - parental leave
- Publish an action plan on how you intend to close the gender pay gap
The channels that you run are important national assets, responsible for reflecting the UK’s diversity through their programmes, workforce and services. If public service broadcasting is for public benefit, then let it be for the benefit of the whole public, in all its glorious diversity.
The Women’s Equality Party.