Earlier this week, the BBC released the salary details of employees in the company who earn more than £150,000. It’s safe to say, it’s caused a bit of a stir.
As you can see above, national treasure Gary Lineker prepared for the onslaught by getting his excuses in early and searching for appropriate protective head gear.
Later that day, as he was safely tucked away in his bunker, the button was pushed and it was revealed that he earned between £1.75 million and £1.8 million (the salaries were all revealed in bandings). Which also helped the nation realise how tough a job presenting Match of the Day must be.
Pre announcement of the salaries, another BBC stalwart, Andrew Marr, was more reserved in his appraisal, simply commenting that the reveal of salaries promised to be ‘uncomfortable’. At this point, it’s also important to say that for the traditional, stiff upper-lipped Brit, there are few more terrifying prospects than feeling ‘uncomfortable’. Uncomfortable is how we’d feel at the very imagining of someone not queuing politely (to see if would be much worse).
Working in the recruitment space where, surprisingly, salaries come up quite a bit, this discomfort can come up a lot, and conversations about salary can be served with a healthy dose of cynicism and dread. And I think that the issue here is the conversation itself, not the amounts that people were being paid (although there were some blushes for the likes of Jeremy Vine when he was quizzed by a coalminer); most people are prepared to accept the fact that celebrities are paid well.
Also, the amounts weren’t anywhere near obscene enough to insert them into the ‘XXX should be paid footballers’ wages arguments’ – which kept them safe. The discomfort came from the fact that a conversation about how much good old fashioned, Brits working at an institution still referred to by some as ‘auntie’ were being paid. It’s despicable.
According to a 2015 survey, British people are almost 10 times more likely to discuss their sex lives than their pay packet, and we’d much rather talk about what we take home in our pants than in our pockets. As would be expected, with all things millennial, those weirdos are more comfortable than previous generations when talking about salary, but the attitude still lingers, at least with the older crowd.
It seems that the major fallout from this incident will be to try and reduce the gender pay gap at the top of the BBC. Gary Lineker was one of 25 men on the list who earned more than £250,000, a stark contrast to the 9 women who passed that figure, a clearly imbalanced split that needs addressing.
As for the emotional damage though, I’m sure that I can speak on behalf of the nation to say that this unsightly incident will take many weeks and literally thousands of cups of strong tea to get over the shudders brought on by the public discussion of this most vulgar of topics.