BBC pay row: ‘now make ALL salaries public!’

Mind the gap: The BBC’s highest-paid man earns four times as much as its highest-paid woman.

After years of resistance, yesterday the BBC finally published the salaries of its highest-earning stars. It caused a huge row — but some are calling for everyone’s pay to be made public.

At 11am yesterday, the BBC published a list of the 96 stars who earn more than £150,000.

Then came the outrage.

For one thing, there was a stark gender pay gap: two-thirds of the highest earners were men. In some cases male presenters earned more than the women sitting next to them on the same shows.

Some people were annoyed that such large amounts were being paid with public money. Others were angry that the figures had been published in the first place.

In many countries, talking about your salary is a taboo subject. People feel defensive if they do not earn much, guilty if they earn a lot, and nervous about how others will judge them.

But research suggests that being open about wages might be good for businesses. One study found that knowing how much co-workers were paid encouraged people to work harder.

As a result, a handful of companies have decided to be honest with their employees about how much everyone earns. The technology company Buffer goes further and publishes the information online for anyone to read.

Employees say that they are happy with these arrangements. Often, knowing how much others earn makes pay more equal for everyone.

Would it be better if everyone’s earnings were common knowledge?

The pay off

Bring it on, say some. Transparency forces companies to admit their mistakes, and then fix them. It encourages less-confident workers to ask for more money. And — after the initial awkwardness — bringing everything out into the open can help to build trust between colleagues.

What a terrible idea, respond others. Publishing salaries is a guaranteed way to spread chaos and resentment between co-workers in a business — and even more so between workers in different industries. The money you earn is a private, personal matter. It should stay that way.

You Decide

  1. When you get a job, will you be happy for people to know how much you earn?

Activities

  1. Write a job advertisement for a BBC news presenter. Explain what they should do, what sort of person they should be — and how much you think they should be paid.

Some People Say...

“No public sector worker should earn more than £250,000 per year.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
In total, the BBC spent £193.5m on “talent” last year, down by £6.5m from the year before. It is generally accepted that the stars of commercial channels like ITV are paid more.
What do we not know?
What will happen next. Lawyers have hinted that the BBC might face discrimination claims. Some experts think that, rather than cutting costs, the move will force wages up

Word Watch

Published
The disclosure is one of the changes in the BBC’s renewed Royal Charter 2017, a document passed by the government, after negotiations began in 2015.
Two-thirds
The BBC director general, Tony Hall, says he aims to end the BBC pay gap by 2020.
Public money
The BBC is partly funded by a license fee of £147 per household for anyone who wants to watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer.
Study
By Emiliano Huet-Vaughn (UC Berkeley) in 2013. He found that workers with information about co-workers’ earnings “provide significantly more labour effort”.

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