BBC's top female stars demand Tony Hall takes action in gender pay gap storm

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The BBC’s most high-profile female stars have written to Director General Tony Hall demanding he take immediate action to tackle the corporation’s gender pay gap. 

Household names including presenters Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire and Angela Rippon are among more than 40 women who have written an open letter to the BBC boss.

It urges him to “correct this disparity” over gender pay, which they say has been known within the corporation “for years”.

Wimbledon presenter Sue Barker, Today programme journalists Mishal Husain and Sarah Montague and BBC Breakfast regular Sally Nugent also added their names to the list.

The BBC was engulfed in a huge gender pay gap storm on Wednesday after it emerged that the top-paid male star raked in more than four times the salary of the highest-earning woman.

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Open letter: Presenter Victoria Derbyshire was among the list of female stars demanding change (Getty Images)

Documents setting out the pay for staff on more than £150,000 showed a sizeable gap in the earnings of the corporation’s most well-known male and female presenters and actors, with Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topping the list on more than £2 million, while the highest paid woman was Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000-£499,999.

In the letter, the signatories say they will be “prepared to meet” Mr Hall “so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination”.

It reads: “The pay details released in the Annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years… that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work.

“Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.

“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years.

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The BBC’s highest paid male star is Chris Evans on between £2.2 million and £2.249,999. Claudia Winkleman is on £450,000 to £499,999 (Getty/Dave Bennett)

“We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

Correspondents including Katya Adler and Lyse Doucet have also backed the move to end discrimination against women.

The letter adds: “Beyond the list, there are so many other areas including production, engineering and support services and global, regional and local media where a pay gap has languished for too long.

“This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all, and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing.

“We would be willing to meet you to discuss ways in which you can correct this disparity so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We have made significant changes over the last three years but need to do more. Tony Hall has pledged the BBC will go further faster.

“Across the BBC, the average pay of men is 10% higher than women. The national average is 18%.

“We are committing to closing it by 2020 – something no other organisation has committed to doing.

“The BBC’s workforce has been hired over generations and this is complex and cannot be done overnight.

“We are, however, confident that when these figures are published again next year they will show significant progress towards that goal.

“Tony Hall meets staff all the time and will of course meet individuals to hear their thoughts as we work to accelerate change.”

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