• Friday, July 19, 2024


Influencer pay gap highlights racial disparities: Report

Recent reports indicate that white influencers earn significantly more than their BAME counterparts.

Recent reports indicate that white influencers earn significantly more than their BAME counterparts. (Representational image: iStock)

By: Vivek Mishra

Influencer pay disparities remain a pressing issue, highlighting how social media stars are compensated differently based on their ethnicity.

Jessica Joseph, head of the British influencer agency Season25, noted a marked shift in advertiser engagement during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. “There was a great period when we worked with brands, and they worked with us consistently. They really wanted black voices,” Joseph told The Guardian. However, this interest has since diminished. “We don’t even get a response to our emails. Not even the courtesy of a no.”

Recent reports indicate that white influencers earn significantly more than their BAME counterparts. White influencers make over 50 per cent more on average, The Guardian reported, citing a report.

Joseph, whose agency focuses on diversity, observed a decline in interest in her clients since the height of the BLM movement in 2020-21. A report from the UK-based SevenSix Agency highlighted this pay gap, revealing that south-east Asian influencers earned an average of £700 per sponsored Instagram post—57 per cent less than the £1,638 average for white influencers. Other groups, including south Asian, black, and east Asian influencers, also faced lower average earnings of £1,135, £1,080, and £1,010, respectively.

This pay disparity points to a broader issue within a field predominantly made up of under-30s. Influencers with lighter skin tones and straighter hair typically earn more. Charlotte Stavrou, founder of SevenSix, said to the newspaper, “If, say, 100 influencers are attending an event, probably 80 of them will be white. The other 20 will be mostly black. Some people don’t understand what diversity actually means because they aren’t from diverse backgrounds or don’t have diverse friend groups.”

Stephanie Yeboah, a decade-long influencer with a quarter of a million Instagram followers, expressed similar concerns. “It feels like the darker you are, the coarser your hair, the further away you are from what society seems as the ideal person aesthetically, the less you’re worth.”

The pay gap also affects creators with different body types and disabilities. “When it comes to travel content, myself and a lot of plus-size travel influencers seem to be expected to work for free,” said Yeboah, attributing this to an “archaic attitude among brands” that favour influencers who fit a specific physical ideal.

Yeboah, Stavrou, and Joseph all call for increased diversity within marketing agencies to address this issue. Joseph noted that the predominantly white marketing industry limits inclusivity. “The sad fact is that mass consumption doesn’t cater to certain hair types, specifically black hair. So working with those brands is further afield for a lot of creators,” she explained. She suggested that including minority creators as consultants could help companies develop products that genuinely meet consumer needs.

Scott Guthrie, director general of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body, said that many brands recognise the importance of representation but may not understand the value of long-term relationships with influencers.

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