Female BBC stars call for 'urgent solutions' over gender pay gap row

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Female BBC stars including Louise Minchin and Mishal Husain have called for “urgent solutions” over the broadcaster’s controversial gender pay gap.

The plea came as Director-General Tony Hall announced an audit of equal pay and said the BBC was “determined” to tackle the issue.

He added “causes tend to be structural – and societal”.

His speech comes two days after he sat down, together with deputy director general Anne Bulford, with leading female broadcasters Fiona Bruce, Clare Balding, Mishal Husain, Sarah Montagu, Garvey and Wark to discuss the issue.

Director General: Lord Tony Hall (Matt Writtle)

A source told the Press Association the conversation was “robust” and “extraordinarily frank”, with Lord Hall “taking the criticism”.

They added: “It’s great that the BBC says it wants to be an exemplar on equal pay, but why isn’t it already?”

In an address to staff, Lord Hall said its gender pay gap was “primarily about the different balance of men and women at different levels”.

Speaking out: BBC presenter Clare Balding (Dave Benett/Getty Images for Lan)

“It’s based on the whole picture across the organisation – and the causes tend to be structural – and societal,” he said.

The BBC Women group said that “solutions” should be in place before the end of the year.

“The Director General must be in no doubt about how serious an issue equal and fair pay is for women across the organisation,” they said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Calling for change: BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin (BBC)

“The BBC should be the standard bearer for this.

“We await the swift release of meaningful data that we can trust and for solutions that will rectify injustices to be put in place before the end of the year.

“We need full transparency. Our aim is to change things for women in broadcasting now, and to encourage and reassure young women coming into the industry whatever their role.

“We will be monitoring developments to ensure real change happens, and quickly.”

Woman’s Hour host Garvey, who organised a letter from some of the BBC’s most prominent female stars calling on the Corporation to “act now” on pay, wrote on Twitter: “If I’ve learnt anything: women need to get together, stick together, speak up for each other. Or nothing will change.”

She added: “We’re going nowhere.” 

BBC Breakfast host Minchin, Today host Husain and sports presenter Clare Balding all posted the statement online.

Balding wrote: “Interesting announcements today. Much work to be done. Thanks to all (including some men) supporting BBC Women.”

Broadcasters Victoria Derbyshire, Andrea Catherwood and Sarah Montague also tweeted the statement.

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