Saturday 24 March 2018

Libby Purves blames ‘vain and greedy’ men for gender pay gap

She said the BBC should not be afraid of losing top talent in its bid to promote equality.

Libby Purves interview
Libby Purves interview

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Broadcaster Libby Purves has said the gender pay gap exists because men are being “vain and greedy”.

The former presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Midweek said the director-general of the corporation should not be afraid of a talent drain in seeking to end pay disparity.

Earlier this month journalist Carrie Gracie resigned as the BBC’s China editor in protest at unequal pay, saying the broadcaster was facing “a crisis of trust” and warning it was breaking employment law by not paying its male and female workers equally.

Writing in the Radio Times, Purves said: “Some complain that the pay gap exists because women don’t negotiate. I would say that it’s more about men being vain and greedy.

“With few exceptions (mainly in the shiny-floor-and-spangles world, inhabited by, for example, Claudia Winkleman) it’s men who drive pay to insane levels.

“It’s men, not women, who flick their carefully tended hair and purr, like a L’Oréal ad, ‘Because I’m worth it!’.”

Purves said she accepts the BBC has a problem with inherited contracts but called for director-general Lord Tony Hall to spend a week reading the BBC’s payroll and noting the gender inequality.

She added: “The DG could then weigh the importance of the top earners and tell their agents that their next contract will shrink, because the BBC must budget carefully and equably.

“If they threatened to go, the DG could gently say, ‘If you must. But remember how much of your ratings depends on our Rolls-Royce production values and international reach. We’ll build another you’.”

BBC gender pay gap

“To news stars the DG could add that BBC News itself is the real star, respected for the rigorous work of hundreds of others who are less well paid.”

She claimed this never happens because managers like controlling big budgets and are afraid of losing top talent.

Responding to Evan Davis’s tweet saying the idea of equal pay for the same work does not make sense in “showbiz”,  and junior actors working alongside Tom Cruise should expect to get the same pay, she said: “Mate, you’re not in showbiz!

“It may be harsh to say, but nobody wants you on a red carpet! You’re an economist who did a bit of Today!”

Branding the BBC’s wounds from the pay gap “self-harm”, she said she believes there are many highly-paid employees, including Today presenter John Humphrys, who would do their job for lower pay.


The Radio Times is out now.

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