On 11 July, as the nation prepared for England’s biggest football match in 28 years, the BBC released its top earners list for 2017-18.
Depressingly, they all have one thing in common. They are all men.
A common theme
The top 12 earners are as follows:
And people on social media quickly noticed a shared characteristic of the 12 high-flyers. Labour MP Rachel Reeves tweeted:
Last year, the BBC’s top 7 earners were ALL men. This year, it’s the top 12. Disgraceful that we seem to be going backwards in the drive for pay equality. BBC need to do much more to make sure women are paid fairly. https://t.co/czub37YCZO
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— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) July 11, 2018
The BBC claims that it’s making progress:
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) July 11, 2018
And the Guardian seems to agree:
BBC reduces pay gap with more female stars earning over £150,000 https://t.co/LBo2VCJe8q
— The Guardian (@guardian) July 11, 2018
BBC director general Tony Hall said:
I’ve made it absolutely clear that’s not good enough and I want to get to 50/50, and that will mean changes in the range of what people are paid right across [the organisation].
We are making progress and you must understand that. We’re trying to get a balanced range of men and women and their pay right across the organisation.
But BBC news presenter Martine Croxall tweeted a statement of behalf of female employees at the corporation. It’s fair to say they don’t agree with Hall’s analysis:
BBC pay list one year on… pic.twitter.com/WacrQO9dLB
— Martine Croxall (@MartineBBC) July 11, 2018
Meanwhile, Times tennis correspondent Stuart Fraser found examples of the value of being a man:
In the BBC's latest pay disclosure for 2017-2018, Sue Barker and John McEnroe each receive £190,000-£199,999.
Barker's commitments include Wimbledon, Queen's, the ATP Finals and the Australian Open.
McEnroe's only commitment is Wimbledon.
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) July 11, 2018
The BBC pays Claudia Winkleman, its highest earning woman, between £370,000 and £379,999 per year. It pays Gary Lineker, its top earning man, £1.75m. That’s a difference of roughly £1.4m. Winkleman would have to work for more than four and a half years to make Lineker’s annual salary.
People were also exasperated that the BBC‘s biggest earners are all white:
BBC top earners are all men!! lol you mean "White Men". it's sad how race inequality continues to take the back seat to gender inequality in today's britain #bbcpay
— FathersRock (@ighogoes) July 12, 2018
The BBC claims that the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) stars are rising. But George Alagiah, its highest paid BAME employee, earns £290,000 to £299,999. That’s £1.45m less than Lineker.
The BBC is pointing to the fact that gender and ethnic pay inequalities have reduced overall since it first published its top earners salaries a year ago.
But it’s the star earners that are getting the headlines, and for good reason. In a capitalist economy, top earners represent what the country most values, what it’s most desirable to be. And from the government to board rooms, white men dominate.
The BBC has the power to influence this, to demonstrate the ability and worth of people who don’t fit the frankly overrated white male identity.
But the fact that its 12 top earners are all white men shows it’s failing miserably.
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