Steph McGovern has clarified her comments on the BBC pay gap, after stating that she thinks it’s “not as simple as a gender issue, it’s partly down to class”.
In an interview published over the weekend, she was quoted as telling the Sunday Times: “There are a lot of women who do a similar job to me who are paid a hell of a lot more... who are a lot posher than me.”
Steph’s comments soon became the focus of numerous debates online and after tweeting some people individually, the BBC Breakfast presenter shared a longer statement with her followers.
Explaining that she made the comments at the end of a lengthier interview about work she does with a charity, Steph wrote: “I was asked to do an interview with the education editor at the Sunday Times about my work with Young Enterprise; a charity helping young people learn about business which I have been heavily involved with for many years.
“Towards the end of the interview I was asked about BBC pay and culture. I said I thought that the issue wasn’t just about gender, but also about class.
“I also said that we talk a lot in the BBC about how to be better at ethnic diversity, which is important because we’re not good enough at it. However we never talk about class and I suggested that if we did it would make us more diverse in lots of ways, including ethnicity.
“I am in a very fortunate position; I love my job and never dreamed I would have such an amazing career and salary. I grew up in Middlesbrough, a town that is often portrayed in a negative light, but one I love.
“I want the people I grew up with and everyone from a place deemed as ‘poor’ to know that they should never be held back from achieving the best in life and they should be proud of where they’re from. That’s it.”
In response, a BBC spokesperson issued a statement to Radio Times. It read: “The BBC has a clear commitment to finding and developing new talent.
“We offer hundreds of apprenticeships to ensure the BBC is open to people from all backgrounds and a range of programmes to help people develop their career once they’ve joined.
“But there’s always more to do and we have an ambitious diversity strategy which sets out our commitment to fully reflecting and representing the whole of the UK.”
The BBC’s gender pay gap was first revealed in July 2017 when the corporation was forced to reveal the salaries of any of its employees earning in excess of £150,000 a year.
In the wake of the news, some of the BBC’s most high-profile women demanded change in an open letter to director-general, Tony Hall.
In it, the group said many had suspected “for years” that women and men at the Beeb were not being treated equally and called on the BBC to sort the issue “now” rather than by Hall’s self-imposed 2020 timescale.