Man Leading U.K. Equality Efforts Says Female BBC Staffers ‘Let’ Pay Gap Happen

Sir Philip Hampton. Photo: Getty Images

More than 40 high-profile female BBC staffers recently wrote an open letter to the network’s director-general, Tony Hall, demanding that they be paid equally to their male counterparts. And now, the co-chair of a government effort to increase the number of female executives in the U.K. has found himself under fire after saying the female BBC presenters “let [the pay gap] happen because they weren’t doing much about it.”

The open letter, which was signed by household names including broadcasters Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire, and Angela Rippon, was written after the BBC published a list of presenters making over £150,000, or about $200,000, as required under new government rules. The disclosure showed that on the list of 96 high-earning employees, only 34 were women. Soon after the letter was published, Hall responded that the BBC’s efforts to close its gender wage gap would be “accelerated.”

Yet as the Guardian reports, in a new interview with the Evening Standard, Sir Philip Hampton — the co-chair of a government-commissioned effort to boost the number of female executives — seemed to suggest that the women were to blame for the pay gap. He said, “They [female broadcasters] are all looking at each other now saying: ‘How did we let this happen?’ I suspect they let it happen because they weren’t doing much about it.”

Hampton urged the BBC to address its pay gap, stating that “the bias is very clear towards men,” but went on to say he’s had women talk to him about career guidance, but never about increasing their pay. “There isn’t a list long enough for all men who’ve asked,” he said. “Lots of men have trooped into my office saying they are underpaid, but no women has ever done that.”

His remarks were understandably met with criticism. BBC Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey told the Standard, “Many women have learnt to question their position in the workplace, partly because of the dominance and success of people like him.”

Hampton, in turn, later clarified in a non-apology statement, “I’m not blaming women — not remotely. It’s just acknowledging the differences [in behavior between men and women].”

U.K. Review Head Says Female BBC Staff ‘Let’ Pay Gap Happen