Why the BBC's pay gap isn't just a problem for famous white women 5 years ago

Why the BBC's pay gap isn't just a problem for famous white women

Yesterday, the wages of the top earners at the BBC were revealed.

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The company's annual report included a list of the 96 stars, presenters, and talk show hosts who made the most money over the past year.

At the top of the list are Chris Evans, Graham Norton, Gary Lineker, and Jeremy Vine, all of whom made between £700,000 and £2,200,000 last year.

Down the list are Claudia Winkleman, Tess Daly, and Alex Jones who were paid between £350,000 and £499,999 for their work.

Claudia Winkleman

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Following the publication of the report, the BBC faced some harsh criticism due to the significant wage gap between its top earning men and women. Not only is the disparity between Evans and Winkleman close to £2 million, but only one third of the list was made up of women.

Still, some are finding it difficult to care because the wage gaps between those at the top are, after all, hundreds of thousands of pounds (or millions, even).

While the broadcaster's director general Lord Tony Hall told Radio 4 that the BBC has reduced the payments of its top stars by 25 percent over the past four years, the fact that those working in showbiz earn incredible amounts of money is a problem that many take issue with.

However, if this is happening at the top, it's most certainly happening at the bottom - and not just in the BBC. 

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Woman in media

The company was forced to publish the list by the British government. This is the first time that the information has been included in the BBC's annual report, and the first time that a British prime minister has accused a national broadcaster of "paying women less for doing the same job as the men."

But despite the shocking figures, this doesn't mean that the BBC is the only company with this issue.

Rather than the unique failing of one corporation, the report is a large scale representation of what is happening across thousands of organisations. The only difference is that we haven't been hearing about them.

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Women in the media are already working in a largely male dominated environment. Only 17 percent of the people who worked as writers, editors, and directors on the top grossing films of 2016 were female.

Similarly, a report published by Glassdoor also showed that women working in the media in the States tend to make 6.6 percent less than the men in the industry.

BBC

However, the problem isn't just with the gender gap, but with the ethnicity gap too. Only 10 of the top earners on the BBC's list were people of colour - and they were all paid considerably less over the year.

Journalist and author Coco Khan took to Twitter to express her lack of shock over this shortage of representation. She understands that certain stars pull audiences - ".... but for real, who's being pulled by Chris Evans? £2.2m worth of folk yet I can't name one," she said.

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The argument that bigger stars doing more work should get paid more money is a fair one, and a prevalent one too. But wage gaps don't just happen for no reason.

Chris Evans

The disparity exists because people are not given the same opportunities, equal levels of encouragement, or the benefit of the doubt that they can actually do the job.

Women and people of colour have to prove themselves that little bit more before they get that new job or that promotion. Not because they are less talented or less capable of the work, but because they work in a male dominated industry that fails to treat everybody equally.

The BBC's annual report is shocking, but it is also not an isolated incident.

These gaps exist in corporations and businesses across the world, and it's only when the problems are made public that changes can start to be made.