PwC and Eversheds to audit salary policies of the BBC

18 September 2017 3 min. read

Following the annual release of the salaries of the BBC’s top earners, PwC and law firm Eversheds have been contracted to audit the BBC’s pay policies. The broadcast giant have come under increased scrutiny for pay packets of their top talent recently. However, the controversy this year has also focused on a substantial pay gap between male and female employees.

PwC has been selected to team up with law firm Eversheds, as the two companies conduct an audit of the BBC’s pay policies, with particular attention to be paid to the gender pay gap, according to BBC director-general Tony Hall.

The public broadcaster came under fire earlier in summer 2017, following the yearly publication of salaries of its top-earning stars, revealing huge pay disparities – with only a third of their on-screen presenters earning over £150,000 being women. The highest earning male star was Chris Evans, with the Top Gear presenter collecting a colossal £2.2 million cheque in 2016, drawing stark comparison with the highest earning female star, Claudia Winkelman, who earned under £500,000.

Earlier this year, the BBC announced the National Audit Office as the corporation's auditor for the financial year 2017-2018, taking over from EY. The BBC audit is worth around £1.6 million, including the audit of the BBC’s annual accounts, the audit of subsidiaries of the BBC and audit-related assurance services, and was a significant loss to EY’s annual portfolio. The BBC could have stayed with the professional services and audit advisory for a further two years, but instead opted to seek the services of the National Audit Office, as part of the media giant’s bid to further improve their organisation's value for money, having been bombarded with allegations of overpaying top televisual talent.

PwC and Eversheds to audit gendered salary policies of the BBC

Now, to quell the indignation arising from the gendered salaries, Director General Hall has stated an intent to take visible, decisive action, outlining reviews into pay that have been commissioned by the BBC, at a speech to staff in Hull.

The first is a report on the gender pay gap, which will be independently audited. Hall noted the causes of this disparity are “structural and societal”, however he clarified that the BBC is determined to close the gap in its own institution, at least. Second is an independent audit of equal pay covering UK-based staff, which will be carried out by Big Four consultancy PwC and Eversheds, using a methodology grounded in the doctrines of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission. PwC is incidentally already working with the broadcaster in this manner, as the firm works to audit the pay disparity between the BBC World Service and the BBC News division that was uncovered earlier this year.

The BBC had previously committed to ending its gender pay gap by 2020. However, following the publication of salary information, 40 women working at the BBC penned an open letter to Tony Hall criticising the fact that “women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work,” and calling for immediate and transparent action.

In a response to the women, Hall penned a letter accepting that more needs to be done to rectify the disparity. However, he also noted that the provisional figures show that the pay gap was 10%, significantly lower than the national average, which PwC reported earlier in the year, currently rests at 17%, costing women in the UK a total of £85 billion per year, in lost wages.