The BBC has commissioned a report into the gender pay gap uncovered at the corporation after it was forced to reveal the salaries of its top-earning on-air talent earlier this year.
In a speech to staff today, director general Tony Hall said he was “determined to close the gap”.
He said the report would be independently audited and also pledged a second independent audit of equal pay for UK staff to expose unjustifiable salary differences.
“If it throws up issues, we’ll deal with them immediately,” he said.
More than 40 journalists were named on the list, with BBC Radio Two presenter Jeremy Vine revealed as the BBC’s highest-earning journalist on up to £749,999 a year.
News presenter Fiona Bruce was the highest-paid female journalist on up to £399,999 a year.
Hall said today: “Our gap is primarily about the different balance of men and women at different levels. It’s based on the whole picture across the organisation, and the causes tend to be structural, and societal.
“That doesn’t mean we should be complacent about it, and I’m determined to close the gap – a commitment I don’t think any other organisation in the country has made.”
He also said the BBC was “reviewing its approach” to on-air presenters, editors and correspondents, “particularly in news and radio”, and had set “ambitious targets” on gender and diversity.
He said: “This is just the start. There are more things on the table – from the way we recruit, to the way we promote, to the way you can raise questions. And I’ll have more to say in the coming weeks and months.
“These are difficult and often deep-rooted challenges. And they are not unique to the BBC. But I see this as a moment of real opportunity for us. I’m determined that the BBC should lead the way – on gender, diversity, and equality.
“I want to assure you that I’m personally committed to making these changes. I also recognise that you’ll judge this by what we do and not just what we say.”
BBC staff have been encouraged to share their views in a consultation on the issue that is currently underway.
Hall has pledged to end the gender pay gap at the BBC by 2020.
Signatories included Radio 4 Today presenter Mishal Husain and Fiona Bruce.
A joint statement shared on Twitter today, signed the #BBCWomen, read: “The Director General must be in no doubt about how serious an issue equal and fair pay is for women across the organisation.
“The BBC should be the standard bearer for this. We await the swift release of meaningful data that we can trust and for solutions that will rectify injustices to be put in place before the end of the year.
“We need full transparency. Our aim is to change things for women in broadcasting now, and to encourage and reassure young women coming into the industry whatever their role.
“We will be monitoring developments to ensure real change happens, and quickly.”