If a woman can be Doctor Who, can the BBC now pay all women fairly?

If a woman can be Doctor Who, can the BBC now pay all women fairly?

Two days after the BBC announced a win for women with the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who, it was revealed that only a third of the highest earners are women, with the highest female earners’ salary being just a quarter of the highest males’  Having recently seen a live recording of The One Show, this gender pay issue returned to the forefront of my mind.   Does the BBC have a gender discrimination problem, and if not, why does Alex Jones earn less than her co-host Matt Baker?

The BBC took a huge leap forward for women when it announced that the new Doctor Who would be Jodie Whittaker, and girls everywhere rejoiced.  Colin Baker, who played the 6th Doctor approves ‘I was the Doctor and I’m over the moon that at last we have a female lead’  whilst his predecessor Peter Davison seemed less sure; ‘If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for’. Was this just a token female, or does the BBC want to promote gender equality and strong female role models?

As a predominately female office, we were stunned by the revelation of the clear gender pay gap at the BBC.  Whilst Tony Hall has promised that there will be equal pay by 2020, it worries me that this will only be the case for the stars that the BBC pays, not the stars who are paid by private companies such as Graham Norton. Even more concerning is the fact that this problem spreads across all BBC staff; on average, men in the corporation earn 9.3% more than women.

As a public company, the BBC was required to share the information and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an audit of all companies to reveal their gender pay difference. But what would we see if other broadcasters had to share it too? Whilst this may seem like a good idea and would help to force progress, it may be a waste of government resources. Would it be better to educate on the advantages of diversity and to encourage women to apply for higher roles in companies and ask for pay rises when they deserve them? Many female stars at the BBC have said that their pay is negotiated by agents who are often male and may not fight for the pay that they deserve.

There is also a stark lack of diversity in the highest paid stars that cannot go unnoticed.  The list is predominately white with the few people of colour who made it on earning the least of the highest paid stars.

Diversity in senior positions is crucial and without it there can be little progress. As an agency that works with creative companies we recognise the importance of diversity to create content that relates to many people. A lack of diversity on a creative board can limit the breadth of ideas and can result in distasteful campaigns that can be a PR nightmare – think the infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial.

Equality and diversity are key to any company and this is not just so you can say you are diverse. Diversity can lead to increased creativity and can help a company grow and succeed.

 

Beatrix Freeland