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BBC stars' salaries reveals huge gender pay gap

Academics comment on the BBC report listing top talent's salaries and revealed a huge gender pay gap

by Kyla Njoku (Senior Communications Officer)

Professor Lis Howell was interviewed by the BBC after the report was published.

She said:

"I think transparency is a good thing and I think Tony Hall dealt well with the gender pay gap, by saying he would eliminate it by 2020. How he goes about doing that will be interesting to see.  

The BBC has a different remit - it's there to reflect society and, in fact, enhance our society. Therefore, it should be representing women as they are in the population.

Professor Lis Howell, Director of Broadcasting (Department of Journalism), City, University of London

"It's not surprising that women are paid less than men, because, in general, women are undervalued in society, and in some ways, the BBC's position is not as bad as in say academia or law, where there are even fewer women in the top salary bands.

"But the BBC has a different remit - it's there to reflect society and, in fact, enhance our society. Therefore, it should be representing women as they are int the population."

Professor André Spicer comments on the impact of BBC’s annual report revealing top star’s pay

He said: 

“The BBC’s annual report making top pay transparent will be a double edge sword. It is likely to encourage greater pay equality, but it could also make staff dissatisfied, demotivated and divert their attention from doing their job to politicking around pay.

“When pay in organisations is made transparent, it tends to show that white, male, native-born employees are paid more for the same performance. Public transparency forces organisations to ensure more equal pay for women, ethnic minorities and non-native born employees.

“But transparency around pay can also have negative consequences, for example, it can push down the wage bill, which is good for license fee payers, but bad for employees. It can also see an increase in the amount of staff who resign. This can create a hidden cost of recruiting new employees.

When pay in organisations is made transparent, it tends to show that white, male, native-born employees are paid more for the same performance.

André Spicer, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Cass Business School

“The big danger with transparent pay is that it drives employee dissatisfaction because most employees think that they are above average performers. This means when they find out that they receive below average pay, they become dissatisfied, which can fast-track declining effort and productivity.

"Transparent pay can also stoke politicking around pay – both inside and outside an organisation. There is a big danger employees can shift their attention away from performance and focus solely on their pay.”

Dr Amanda Goodall comments on the BBC gender pay gap and how the revelations are sensationally skewed

She said:

“There is only one interesting fact that has been revealed through this public exposure of BBC pay: it is the discrepancy in gender pay. But we know this already. A gap exists in almost all industries, broadcasting and media included. Also, this report only focuses on a tiny minority of the highest paid women in one organisation.

"It is skewed. The real issue here isn’t the level of disparity in talent pay at the very top, but the reason why these people’s salaries were revealed in the first place.

We certainly need bodies to regularly review salaries and keep a check on inequalities. But publicly exposing pay does not help. Instead, it will make us all less happy and, ironically, it may lead to greater discrepancies.

Dr Amanda Goodall, Senior Lecturer, Cass Business School

“Many call for salaries to be exposed to reveal bias whether it be gender or ethnicity. But no one ever asks whether this information is beneficial to society? Research reveals that it is not. Knowing what others earn makes us less happy and reduces our job satisfaction.

"We certainly need bodies to regularly review salaries and keep a check on inequalities. But publicly exposing pay does not help. Instead, it will make us all less happy and, ironically, it may lead to greater discrepancies.”

Dr Amanda Goodall is the co-author of the study Do Women Ask?, the first research paper to undertake a statistical test of the idea that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men. The researchers found no support for the theory.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.