BBCdirector general Tony Hall has sought to get back on the front foot following a weekend of rancor in the wake of the unprecedented decision to publish pay details for all of its top presenting talent.
The move drew immediate criticism from more than 40 female stars; including Fiona Bruce, Clare Balding and Victoria Derbyshire, who signed a letter demanding immediate action to close a yawning gender pay gap between them and their male colleagues.
Responding to this challenge Hall has vowed to do more to harmonise pay, declaring that his vision was to ensure that the BBC became an ‘exemplar on gender and diversity’. In practical terms this fits into ongoing moves to close the gap by 2020 although this is unlikely to satisfy the signatories, who are demanding that action be taken to end discrimination ‘now’.
Hall said: “There will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the autumn. I would obviously value your contribution and thinking as part of this process. When figures are published next year, I am confident they will look very different.
“When other organisations publish their gender pay data by next April, I want the BBC to be one of the best performers when comparisons are made. Beyond that, over the next three years, I want the BBC to be regarded as an exemplar on gender and diversity.”
Wimbledon host Sue Barker, Welsh TV presenter Alex Jones and Today journalist Mishal Husain have also signed the letter, in which they declare their willingness to meet Hall in order to discuss their grievances.
A report looking at recent progress towards equalising representation of men and women on the boards of Britain's 350 biggest companies found that progress has stalled, with the share of women in such roles failing to rise over the past year.