In this article, we want to shine a light on the realities surrounding the gender pay gap and
look at the experts’ advice as to how to put an end to this unfair situation.
When asked about payment offered to diverse crews, Lulu Elliott (RA-Agency) suggests that
there is a pattern in which yes, more diverse projects are being commissioned and more diverse
crews are hired, but on low budgeted projects not high end.
“It would seem that they come to us for the low budget jobs, it looks like the diverse led projects
that need diverse crews are always underfunded, therefore diverse crews are pigeon holed in
the low pay end jobs, there is a pattern emerging.’’ Would ‘Action Man’ have a bigger budget than
‘Barbie’? Why didn’t they want to spend money to finish ‘Bat Girl? Why is Amazon’s ‘Anansi Boys’
lower budget than ‘The Omens’? Plus many more examples….
”If we are to reach equality, these companies
need to spend the same money, not treat it as a
diversity box ticking exercise and spend as little
money as possible. We could be wrong, but there
is a picture that’s emerging that suggests this and
me and my diverse clients have noticed.”
Lulu suggests that it would be good to see the spending breakdown of projects that are diverse
led then not. An example offered by Elliott is that allegdly the Swedish film institute said 50% of
the film budget will be given to female directors, but allegedly the money wasn’t split 50/50, just
the number of projects and actually the male directors got more money for their projects, so it’s
First, is transparency; this is the key. We need more transparency when it comes to budgets and
spends that can reflect rates and deals. We need a study or data collection to compare budget
spends on diverse led vs non diverse led. Look at the makeup of the crew and compare their
rates. There will be a pattern.
There is some research which has been done thanks to the Time Project published in January
found that women working in TV and Film are routinely being paid less than men. The gender
pay gap is revealed to be 17.6 percent for those on daily rates and 16.6 percent for those on
weekly rates, with the greatest pay disparity occurring amongst women aged between 20
and 29, who are found to be earning 39 percent less than their male counterparts.
In a recent webinar on this very subject organised by Talent Managers and presented by
Becs Hall International Women’s Day 2022 – The Gender Pay Gap , we heard from experts
about the situation and ways to manage it. The panel is only accessible to Talent Manager
members but we wanted to share the findings:
According to Michelle Reynolds, (co-founder of SMTJ), “generally speaking and certainly in
unscripted, women tend to be pushed down the production route or casting, whereas the
men tend to be pushed towards more sort of technical roles’’
The Time Project was created in response to the frustration
that was felt about the fact that so much talk was happening
about the problems in the industry, but so little was being
done. The Time Project basically allows people to
anonymously log their hours and their rates and then they can
also compare those to other people in their department in
their genre, in their role…
Generally, women in their 30s, 40s and 50s worked fewer
hours than their male counterparts although it showed very
clearly that the gender pay disparity is there, particularly in
the age range between 20 and 29. So it shows that it exists
right at the very beginning really, at the early stages of a
woman’s career they are already getting paid less than their
male counterparts. The gap narrows as they get older, but it
An agent commented: “A lot of the same traits apply in both scripted and unscripted, as men
often historically go into those technical roles where there are gangs of them…”. “Look at the
lighting crew, there are great groups of them and they stick together. Whereas in the camera
crew, because the script supervisor is technically in the camera crew, there is one of her and
it usually is a ‘her’… and in hair and make-up often there are not many, or there is only one at a
senior level; costume, smaller departments… All of these are inherently female departments
and they inherently earn less because I think they haven’t come out and shouted about it in
quite the same way and they haven’t stuck together in quite the same way. This is about us
empowering ourselves, I think there is quite a lot we can do at base level. We need men to
be allies, we need systems to change”.
Head of BECTU, Philipa Childs, assured that “over the years we have been very maledominated
and some of our key activists have been men as well. We just haven’t had this
conversation enough about equal pay in the industry and valuing different types of roles
equally, so I think that if you think about the traditional workplace or just about the
broadcasters, for example, they have all got equal pay gaps, so little wonder that the
freelancer’s environment has got equal pay gaps too”. She added: “We know that women
don’t ask for pay rises, we know that women are more timid about asking for what they
deserve and what their skills are worth, what other people are getting paid in the industry and
being bolder about asking for their worth as well”.
At the top of the Talent Manager website you
can access the rate checker from there and it
is really very simple. Basically you can search
for the role that you are going for, the timeslot
that the programme is going to be in and
then it will bring up all the rates for that
particular job and it will help you make a
decision and be better informed. There is also
the BECTU rate card as well. Rate cards: find
out the rates for the work you do.
“Rate guidance as we like to describe it”, said Philipa Childs. “Part of the controversy was around whether we
were saying that those were the rates that people should be paid in those roles and we weren’t. It is a piece of
guidance that will evolve and will grow and obviously the more people we have inputting that information, the
more we will have and I think the important thing about rates and the work that BECTU does around rates is
the reality and that the strength is in numbers, without a shadow of a doubt, so that is partly the reason why, as
Sara described, certain roles get paid a higher level because those branches in BECTU are really strong, firm
and clear and communicate with each other a lot about what is being paid on different productions. We have
some great work going on in branches like ‘hair and make-up’ and costumes so that they become more
informed and stronger and be more assertive around that”.
As stated by Michelle Reynolds, “It won’t work if men are left out of the discussion. Unfortunately at this point
men are the people who are in power. They are ones that are putting out the budgets from the broadcasters. If
you are a man in TV, make sure that your co-worker is at the same rate as you. Talk about your rate, it is so
helpful, make sure, if you are a man who is setting a budget, giving Helen a budget for a documentary, make
sure there is enough in there to pay everybody fairly. You have got to help us out, because as much as we
push, it has to come from the men as well”.
Talent Manager has the rate checker available to all but for freelancers, jobs that you have done, get your rates
added in there because it helps us to get the information to women who are trying to get paid the same as
men. So please do go and check it out when you can.
What is important is that we keep this conversation open and we have to know that it comes from us as well.
Our own bias, which we might not even be aware of, must be considered in all of these discussions too.