BBC presenter pushes her boss about the pay gap and things get awkward

Mishal Husain, who won't let her boss dance around the question of equal pay.
Image: Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for #Grazia10

It’s never easy talking about salaries but one BBC journalist gave us all a masterclass in how to handle it.

Mishal Husain, a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, interviewed her boss, the BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall hours before the organisation released salary details of its highest earners.

As expected the report showed a massive pay gap between genders and a lack of diversity among top earners. About two-thirds of BBC stars earning more than 150,000 are male, compared to one-third female.

But Mishal Husain definitely led the conversation and sent a strong message that this isn’t acceptable and the BBC won’t be let off the hook. (Listen to the whole thing here the conversation happens at about 1:42.)

Husain asks Hall how he’s going to address the pay gap and he dances around answering it, instead pointing to stats about the percentage of women hosting breakfast shows.

“But that is a different point to the point Ive put to you about the pay gap,” she says.

“By 2020 well have equality between men and women on air, and well have the pay gap sorted by then too, Hall says. He waffles some more and then says, “Whatever company were in to look at the gender pay gap and do something about it and Im committed to doing something about it.”

Husain presses him for specifics, asking if overall wages were going to go up of course that elicits a negative response from Hall. More non-answers about “living within our means.”

“Im not sure what that means in terms of managing the gender pay gap – does that mean youre going to be asking the men to take a pay cut?” she asks.

“Well be working through case-by-case,” he says, and continues on with his talking points that they’re improving in equality between men and women presenting the programmes, in drama it’s already 50/50, blah blah.

Sadly the time for the segment was up but we could’ve listened to this all day. Twitter was so here for it:

The release the report has sparked outrage and incredulity. Chris Evans, the highest paid, earned 2.2 million and 2.25 million, while Claudia Winkleman, the highest-paid female celebrity, earned between 450,000 and 500,000.

There will likely be many more difficult conversations going forward until things change at the BBC and the nation.