One of the bigger stories of 2018 was the pay gap between female and male performers in Hollywood. And the story that seemed to sum the whole issue up quite well was a report about Netflix’s “The Crown,” which revealed that co-stars Matt Smith and Claire Foy were paid differently, even though Foy was the Emmy-winning lead. Well, according to Netflix executive Ted Sarandos, that situation not only was rectified but led to sweeping changes at the streaming service.
The Netflix boss was recently speaking at an event (via Deadline), where he was asked about the pay gap issue and how “The Crown” helped pave the way for changes at the streamer.
“It’s really a complicated thing when you’re breaking new talent in a new show,” Sarandos said. “The show turned out to be an enormous show for Netflix and it was an incredible launching pad for Claire Foy’s career. I can’t comment on her salary, I wasn’t in charge of it. But there was a disparity. What it did for us is, it had us go back and look at all of our productions and all of our productions that were being run by third parties, to make sure none of those disparities existed.”
While he didn’t go into details, Sarandos went on to say that there is are new pay guidelines in place at Netflix that will prevent this sort of disparity to happen again.
“We do,” he said. Although, “it’s in practice, it isn’t a plaque we hang on the wall. It’s something that we do every day. I think that the Claire/Matt issue, as complicated as it is, pointed to a bigger problem throughout the industry. We were able to find a couple of other ones we were able to adjust.” He didn’t identify any of the shows or talent for whom those revisions were made.
After discussing “The Crown,” the executive talked about a situation much closer to home that involved a pay gap issue that put the whole thing in perspective. He told a story about how a female was hired as one of his employees, beating out several men for the position. However, when Sarandos noted the salary he was paying her, he realized the number was less than what was going to be offered to the men, based on a variety of factors.
Sarandos invited the woman to a meeting where he explained that he wasn’t going to let the disparity last. “It’s an incredibly unfair position you’re in just based on your previous history, how your salary got to be this number,” he said, when describing the conversation he had with the woman. “If I was in the market, hiring someone, I would pay this [male equivalent] number, so I’m going to pay you that now.”
So, even though “The Crown” situation was a bit of a blemish on Netflix’s 2018 record, it would appear that the folks in charge are now thinking differently, which can only be seen as a win for those fighting for equal pay.