BBC Breakfast star Steph McGovern claims she would earn more money if she had a posh accent instead of her pronounced north-east twang and said bosses should do more to encourage working-class people into broadcasting.
The Middlesbrough-born presenter said she had only “just now” made it to a six-figure salary while “posher” colleagues do similar roles for “a hell of a lot more.”
She said: “We concentrate too much on ethnic diversity and not enough on class.
“It’s dead important to represent loads of different cultures. But what the BBC doesn’t do enough of is thinking about getting people from more working-class backgrounds.”
Ms McGovern stressed she did think the BBC should do less work recruiting more people from ethnic minority backgrounds but should give more consideration to class.
She said: “If you focus on class too, then that will bring with it diversity in every sense, not just ethnicity. There shouldn’t just be a focus on ethnicity.
“A lot of people who talk to me in the street and say they like me on telly are people from ethnic minorities, because we’re often from a similar socio-economic background.”
Ms McGovern, the daughter of a teacher and radiographer, said she has had to fight for fair pay.
She told The Sunday Times: “It’s not as simple as a gender issue, it’s partly down to class.
“There are a lot of women who do a similar job to me who are paid a hell of a lot more. Who are a lot posher than me.”
And she added too many BBC managers are out of touch with ordinary people.
She said: “A lot of people in management are from the same background. We’re talking about ‘how do we represent more working-class people?’, when they themselves are not working-class. So how do they know?”
Ms McGovern did not feature on the Beeb’s best-paid list last year which only named presenters and stars on more than £150,000 a year and included Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce, who earns between £350,000 and £399,999, and Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark, who was in the £150,000 to £199,999 bracket.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “More than 80 per cent of the BBC’s workforce was educated in state schools and the BBC is more diverse than it has ever been.
“The BBC has a clear commitment to finding and developing new talent.
“We offer hundreds of apprenticeships to ensure the BBC is open to people from all backgrounds and a range of programmes to help people develop their career once they’ve joined, but there’s always more to do and we have an ambitious diversity strategy which sets out our commitment to fully reflecting and representing the whole of the UK.”