The group, which comprises of 86 men and 156 women from across the BBC, warns that the corporation’s current approach to pay has “eroded trust and morale”.
The open letter urges the BBC’s director general Tony Hall to fulfill his goal to make the corporation “the most transparent organisation when it comes to pay”.
Gracie, the broadcaster’s former China editor who resigned earlier this year in protest at pay equality, signed the letter and wrote on Twitter: “Don’t want ££, want to be
#equal. Tired of being told ‘NOT AS GOOD AS THE MEN’”.
Jane Garvey, the Radio 4 Women’s Hour presenter, said the BBC could be “the best in the business” if it agreed to the letter’s demands.
The letter calls for transparency in how pay is decided, as well as promotion and recruitment processes. Individual salaries and benefits should also be published, the letter states.
Signatories agree that transparency is the “fairest way to tackle unequal pay” and uncover pay discrimination against groups such as ethnic minorities and the LGBT people.
“This change in culture will attract and retain great people, because people want to work in places where they are heard and respected, and where they understand how their pay is set,” the letter states.
The BBC responded to the letter, saying it is looking at whether salaries from the licence fee should be made public and what additional measures are necessary so as not to put the corporation at a “competitive disadvantage”.
The publication of the letter comes following a tumultuous time for the BBC, with an increasing number of staff speaking out against the pay discrepancies within Broadcasting House.
Women at the BBC told MPs at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in January that they had faced “veiled threats” while trying to get equal pay.
The letter was shared widely on social media on Tuesday morning, with a number of BBC staff publicly lending their support.
The letter in full reads:
It’s time for full pay transparency at the BBC. Transparency about what everyone earns, about how pay is decided, and also about promotion and recruitment across all areas of the Corporation.
There is no legal bar to doing this. The BBC just needs to change the expectations of people working here, by telling them that in future their pay will be transparent.
The BBC says it wants to be “the most transparent organisation when it comes to pay”. Full publication of individual salaries and benefits (and other payments through BBC Studios and all commercial arms) would have a lasting positive impact on the culture of the BBC and beyond.
There are many reasons for doing this now:
1. It’s the fastest, cheapest and fairest way to begin to tackle unequal pay at the BBC. When everyone knows exactly what everyone is paid, it is easy to identify comparators and start conversations about value. Transparency is the tool that can stop the BBC breaking the law on Equal Pay.
2. At the same time, transparency is by far the most effective way to uncover pay discrimination of all kinds – against ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, or on the basis of age or any other legally protected characteristic.
3. It’s also the best way to uncover pay differences linked to characteristics which may not be legally protected but which employers committed to fairness should want to monitor, such as bias linked to class, educational background or regional origin.
4. There is increasing evidence that pay transparency is good for employers, not just for employees. We believe it will save a lot of money. Our pay structure is likely to flatten as very high salaries become even harder to justify. And the cost of the BBC’s current approach is not just financial, it has also eroded trust and morale. This change in culture will attract and retain great people, because people want to work in places where they are heard and respected, and where they understand how their pay is set.
5. The BBC spends public money. The public deserves to know how that money is spent.
We love the BBC and believe in its values of transparency and accountability. We want to work with you to help the BBC live up to those values, and to restore the trust of staff and audiences in the BBC’s stated commitments.
A review published last year found that men were being paid 9.3% more than women at the BBC on average.
Yet an audit published in January found there was “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision making” at the corporation in regards to presenters, correspondents and on-air talent, but there were warnings of sizeable salary gaps between lower-profile broadcasters.
Responding to the letter, a BBC spokesperson said: “We already have a project planned to look at transparency at the BBC which will consider - among other things - whether all salaries from the licence fee should be published and what other measures are necessary that wouldn’t put the BBC at a competitive disadvantage.
“The BBC already publishes more information about itself, its operations and its staff than any other broadcaster. We are already committed to going further and faster than any other organisation in closing our gender pay gap.
“We have set out real targets and have announced a project based led by Donalda McKinnon to do all we can to help the progression and culture for women within the organisation.
“BBC Studios and Worldwide are fully commercial businesses and are not funded by the licence fee. It’s not public money. They have to compete in the commercial market on a level playing field against other commercial business.
“It would be wrong to put them at a competitive disadvantage at a time we should be doing all we can to support British content against the global west coast giants.”