Our HR Consultant, Cathryn Foreman, shares her thoughts on today's BBC Pay report, and what the pay gap means.

Today the BBC published its Annual Report & Accounts, including the Annex to the Report, which lists everyone paid more than £150,000 of licence fee revenue in the financial year 2016/17.9

With the introduction of the recent gender pay gap reporting requirements, attention will be focused on the distribution of pay between men and women and the level of parity and equity between them.

Currently, two thirds of those earning £150,000 or over at the BBC are male – with only one third female. This might be expected for a whole range of historical reasons, but is still a situation that needs addressing.

Cast your eye down the list, and it’s easy to make judgments about the apparent unfairness of salaries when two people who might be undertaking very similar roles are paid different amount. For example, there is considerable difference in pay between the radio presenters Steve Wright, Venessa Feltz, Ken Bruce and Jo Whiley, with Jo earning less than half that of Steve Wright.

Is this right and just? Very difficult to say. Their time commitments may be different, and many of those on the list undertake a variety of different work for the BBC, some of which may not be readily apparent to us. It is not a straightforward issue of comparing like with like.

For those who are involved in managing pay and reward, the publication of this data raises a whole range of issues. Many of those individuals included on the list have publicly stated that the BBC is not a high payer when compared with the sector in which they operate. Commercial stations pay double, if not three or four times, what the BBC offer. This data provides valuable information for competitors to potentially poach BBC employees.

It is also the case that these salaries are not salaries for a job, but a salary for an individual and what their own commercial value or brand is worth in the market think (Brand Beckham). Chris Evans, the highest paid, earning more than £2.2m, is clearly marketable and this is true of others on the list.

All organisations need to value their talent and protect those assets by providing a remuneration package that reflects their value in the market, while also considering the internal dynamics and values and ethos of the organisation. The cost of replacing such individuals will often justify the argument around the pay level, but that is only one aspect to consider.

What organisations also need to ensure is that all employees, regardless of gender (or indeed any other protected characteristic) are given equal opportunity to develop their skillset, knowledge and expertise so that they can increase their market value and earning potential. Women are equally as talented as men and given the right opportunity and support there should be no reason why the higher paid individuals in an organisation are not more evenly split between gender.

Clearly there is still work to do around equal pay and the gender pay gap, but it is not as simple as focusing on the salary package.