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Report reveals stark pay disparities among influencers by race

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A recent study has uncovered significant pay disparities among social media influencers, with white influencers earning markedly more than their Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) peers. The UK-based SevenSix Agency’s report highlighted that south-east Asian influencers earn an average of £700 per sponsored Instagram post, significantly lower than the £1,638 average for white influencers. Similarly, south Asian, black, and east Asian influencers also face reduced earnings, with averages of £1,135, £1,080, and £1,010 respectively.

Jessica Joseph, head of the British influencer agency Season25, pointed out a noticeable decline in brand engagement with her clients since the peak of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2020-21. “There was a great period when we worked with brands, and they worked with us consistently. They really wanted black voices,” she shared with The Guardian. However, the interest waned over time. “We don’t even get a response to our emails. Not even the courtesy of a no.”

Joseph’s agency, which emphasises diversity, reflects broader trends in influencer marketing. Charlotte Stavrou, founder of SevenSix, highlighted that lighter skin tones and straight hair often correlate with higher earnings. She observed, “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, an influencer with a decade of experience and a substantial following, echoed these 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,” she said. Yeboah also pointed out that influencers with different body types and disabilities often struggle to secure fair compensation, particularly in the travel content sector.

The pay gap within influencer marketing underscores the need for greater diversity in the industry. Joseph suggested that including minority creators as consultants could help brands develop more inclusive products. Scott Guthrie, director general of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body, emphasised the need for brands to understand the value of building long-term relationships with a diverse range of influencers.

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