Alex Jones, who presents The One Show alongside Matt Baker, has admitted that she’s “shocked” to learn her male co-star earns so much more than her.
They work on the same show, sit on the same sofa five days a week and do exactly the same job: the only difference between Jones and Baker is the size of their paycheques, a fact which she didn’t learn until earlier this year, when the BBC revealed the pay brackets of its employees.
Jones is in the £400,000 to £449,000 bracket, while Baker is a grade higher on £450,000 to £499,00.
Speaking to The Mirror about the disparity, Jones said: “Matt and I have never discussed wages, but I assumed we got paid the same.
“I was quite shocked. I guess everybody else was.”
The top 10 BBC salaries for on-air talent
1. Chris Evans £2.2m–£2.25m
2. Gary Lineker £1.75m–£1.8m
3. Graham Norton £850,0000–£899,999
4. Jeremy Vine £700,000–£749,999
5. John Humphrys £600,000–£649,999
6. Huw Edwards £550,000–£599,999
7. Steve Wright £500,000–£549,999
= 8. Matt Baker £450,000–£499,999
= 8. Claudia Winkleman £450,000–£499,999
= 9. Nicky Campbell £400,000–£449,999
= 9. Alex Jones £400,000–£449,000
= 9. Andrew Marr £400,000–£449,999
= 9. Stephen Nolan £400,000–£449,999
= 9. Alan Shearer £400,000–£449,999
10. Fiona Bruce £350,000–£399,999
Upon the publication of the salaries, which the BBC had opposed, director general Tony Hall took the opportunity to set out a “clear target” for gender parity by 2020, and claimed that focusing on recent hires and promotions reflected the broadcaster’s commitment to diversity.
“We’ve set a clear target for 2020: we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women,” he said.
“It’s already having an impact. If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60% are women and nearly a fifth come from a BAME background.
“Meeting our goal on this is going to have a profound impact not just on the BBC, but the whole media industry. It’s going to change the market for talent in this country.”
However, Jones – along with Clare Balding, Sue Barker and Gabby Logan – called upon the BBC to make immediate changes to ensure equality in the company.
“Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate,” they wrote in an open letter to the broadcaster. “However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.
“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”
The letter went on to state that the pay gap “has languished for too long” in all areas of the company and it needed fixing so future generations don’t need to face the same discrimination.
“This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all, and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing,” it concluded.
Pay disparity is not the only issue that Jones has had to contend with: in her interview with The Mirror, she explained that she felt ‘judged’ by some for choosing to focus on her career before starting a family.
“Why wouldn’t you have a very successful career while you’re waiting for that person and children to come into your life?” she said.
Jones went on to add that she found it “hard to take a step back” when she went on maternity leave, particularly because the industry she works in is so fickle.
“For me it was very clear because my main aim in life was to have a family at whatever cost,” she said.
“So I would never have not had a baby, but of course you do have a job, you have to pay a mortgage and you have to balance both.”
Images: Rex Features