What We Can Learn From The British Female TV Stars Demanding Equal Pay

 Get it, women of the BBC.

Get it, women of the BBC.

42 women signed an open letter to Tony Hall, the BBC’s director general, demanding an immediate solution to the wage gap problem.

Last week, the UK's national broadcaster, BBC published the pay data of its top-earning employees, and the findings were were both unsurprising and infuriating: Two-thirds of the top-paid employees—those earning over 150,000 pounds (US$195,000)—are white men. Blimey.

While some of the top-paid journalists’ salaries have already been cut in order to free up money for others, the report underlined the notion that this fix is not happening quickly enough. The idea that it would be “sorted” by 2020, as Hall originally promised, seems highly unlikely in light of the disparities that still exist.

In response, 42 women signed a letter that was published in The Sunday Times and other news outlets. And it’s a master class in brevity and straightforwardness:

Dear Tony Hall:

The pay details released in the annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years ... that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work.

Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.

You have said that you will “sort” the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.

Beyond the list there are so many other areas — including production, engineering and support services and global, regional and local media — where a pay gap has languished for too long.

This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing.

We would be willing to meet you to discuss ways in which you can correct this disparity so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination.

Yours sincerely,

Katya Adler, Samira Ahmed, Anita Anand, Wendy Austin, Zeinab Badawi, Clare Balding, Sue Barker, Emma Barnett, Rachel Burden, Annabel Croft, Martine Croxall, Victoria Derbyshire, Lyse Doucet, Jane Garvey, Karin Giannone, Fi Glover, Joanna Gosling, Carrie Gracie, Orla Guein, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Lucy Hockings, Mishal Husain, Katty Kay, Martha Kearney, Kirsty Lang, Gabby Logan, Kasia Madera, Emily Maitlis, Annita McVeigh, Louise Minchin, Aasmah Mir, Sarah Montague, Jenni Murray, Sally Nugent, Elaine Paige, Carolyn Quinn, Angela Rippon, Ritula Shah, Kate Silverton, Charlotte Smith, Sarah Smith, Kirsty Wark.

On LBC radio, Prime Minister Theresa May said, “We’ve seen the way the BBC is paying women less for doing the same job. What’s important is that the BBC looks at the question of paying men and women the same for doing the same job.”

We’ll see what comes of it, but either way, for those looking to combat the pay gap issue stateside, it’s heartening to see the kind of traction a message can gain when women stand together on the issue. And not just for gender-based discrimination, but for other marginalized populations as well. 

Words: Deena Drewis