The BBC’s biggest female stars aren’t going to wait around and hope that the company will eventually address the gender pay gap; they want changes sooner rather than later, and they’re pulling out all the stops to get their message heard. On July 22, more than 40 women employed by the public broadcaster wrote an open letter to BBC Director-General Tony Hall imploring him to “act now.” Hall has since responded to the letter of his own, stating that change to the gender pay gap will “accelerate.”
The gender pay gap among the BBC’s highest-earning talent was revealed on July 19, when the company released a report revealing the salaries of employees who made more than £150,000. The report showed that male talent was paid much more than female hosts. Before the report was revealed, Hall went on BBC Radio 4 Today to discuss it and dodged specific questions about how to address the gap from host Mishal Husain.
The July 22 open letter addresses these concerns, stating that the release of the report confirmed a preexisting belief that the 42 female stars were paid less than their male counterparts. “You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years,” they wrote. “We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”
Two days later, on July 24, Hall responded with his own letter, according to Variety. He once again stated that he wants to close the gap by 2020 and have a 50/50 split of gender representation on air. Hall added that action was already being taken to address the disparity, but went on to say that “there will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the Autumn.” Hall believes next year’s numbers will be different, but in the meantime, he’s going to have a lot to answer for – and not just to his employees.