So where are we on the gender pay gap?
As the BBC releases information on how it is managing its own gap, activist groups suggest that Covid-19 could be disproportionately effecting women
The gender pay gap has risen back up the news agenda, as details have emerged that the BBC is failing to close disparities between pay to male and female staff.
The British broadcasting institution had previously pledged – after a 2017 furore when the salaries of its top-earning talent were made public – to close its gender pay gap by 2020. A new report, however, suggests that this target has not been met.
In 2017, the men at the BBC earned on average 9.3% more than women. In 2020 – the year it had planned for pay to be equal among the genders – the gap remains, though it has been reduced to male salaries being 6.2% higher.
The BBC has made some serious adjustments to its payroll to address inadequacies. The most striking of these is the £990,000 pay rise Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball has just received, taking her annual salary to £1.36 million. This comes at the expense of some male presenters’ salaries, including former footballer Gary Lineker and newsreader Huw Eadwards.
The BBC’s pay gap is significantly better than the UK as a whole. In Britain today, the pay gap shows that men, on average, still earn 17.3% more than women.
Coronavirus is expected to have a further impact on the pay gap, as lockdown has led many women to assume more traditional gender roles, taking on more responsibility for household chores, cooking and childcare than men.
Activism group Pregnant Then Screwed, which champions the rights of working mothers, released a survey of nearly 20,000 mothers and pregnant women this summer. It showed that 15% had been made redundant or expected to be made redundant, with 46% of those saying that a lack of childcare during lockdown played a role in their redundancy.
It also showed that 72% of working mothers had to reduce the number of hours they worked during lockdown, and 65% said they were furloughed because of a lack of childcare.
A famous rallying cry of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst during her famous Freedom or Death speech in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1913 was: “You must make women count as much as men.” Though we are more than a century down the line, and change has been clodhopping along, it would seem that we still have a way to go to address the gender pay gap in Britain, and therefore workplace equality.