BBC faces backlash for white, male top earners

It was an uncomfortable morning for many at the BBC after salaries were made public, revealing a significant gender and ethnic pay gap.

The public broadcaster's top seven earners are all men, and none of the top ten earners are of a minority ethnicity. 

The top-paid female star - Claudia Winkleman - earns one fifth of the highest earner's salary. She's on around NZ$800,000, while top earner Chris Evans takes home NZ$3.9m.

Claudia Winkleman hosts Strictly Come Dancing.
Claudia Winkleman hosts Strictly Come Dancing. Photo credit: Getty

Evans, host of Radio 2 Breakfast, faced questions from reporters as he left the studio on Wednesday. 

"We are the ultimate public company I think, and therefore it's probably right and proper people know what we get paid," he said.

Chris Evans leaving the Radio 2 studio.
Chris Evans leaving the Radio 2 studio. Photo credit: Getty

Jane Garvey, host of Women's Hour on BBC radio, tweeted the radio show would be focusing on the gender pay gap. "Going well, isn't it?" she said, tongue firmly in cheek. Garvey did not make the list of highest earners.

Feminist economist Prue Hyman says the problem is entrenched and slow to change. She said employers need to be educated in recognising women's skills and merit, including the skills gained during childcare. 

"A lot of women get pushed out when they get to a certain age... They don't have the opportunity to get what the men get," she told RadioLIVE.

But she said while the pay gap at the top gets a lot of attention, there are too many low-paid women at the bottom and she is much more concerned about them. She said low-paid men "don't do well, either", but there are simply more low-paid women.

BBC management has accepted there is "more to do" on the gender pay gap. 

The broadcaster was compelled to release the figures as part of its new Royal Charter. The list does not include those paid through commercial activities, which might explain the absence of figures like David Attenborough.

BBC director general Tony Hall says the broadcaster is more diverse than the broadcasting industry in general and pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020.

The BBC's biggest pay packets

1 Chris Evans £2.2m - £2.25m (NZD $3.89m - NZD $3.98m)

2 Gary Lineker £1.75m - £1.8m (NZD $3.10m - NZD $3.19m)

3 Graham Norton £850,0000 - £899,999 (NZD $1,504,219 - NZD $1,592,701)

4 Jeremy Vine £700,000 - £749,999 (NZD $1,238,769 - NZD $1,327,251)

5 John Humphrys £600,000 - £649,999 (NZD $1,061,802 - NZD $1,150,284)

6 Huw Edwards £550,000 - £599,999 (NZD $973,318 - NZD $1,061,800)

7 Steve Wright £500,000 - £549,999 (NZD $884,835 - NZD $973,317)

8 =Claudia Winkleman £450,000 - £499,999 (NZD $796,351 - NZD $884,833)

8 = Matt Baker £450,000 - £499,999 (NZD $796,351 - NZD $884,833)

9 = Nicky Campbell £400,000 - £449,999 (NZD $707,868 - NZD $884,833)

9 = Andrew Marr £400,000 - £449,999 (NZD $707,868 - NZD $884,833)

9 = Stephen Nolan £400,000 - £449,999 (NZD $707,868 - NZD $884,833)

9 = Alan Shearer £400,000 - £449,999 (NZD $707,868 - NZD $884,833)

9 = Alex Jones £400,000 - £449,000 (NZD $707,868 - NZD $884,833)