We’ve known for a long time that in nearly every industry, pay disparities between men and women and white people and people of colour exist. Riverdale actress Vanessa Morgan recently called out the show for using Black characters as tokenistic sidekicks to white characters, adding that she was paid far less than her white costars. The influencer industry, no matter how much it talks about innovation, diversity and opportunity, isn’t any different. Talking about “listening and learning,” isn’t enough anymore. In the age of screenshots and accountability, ya gotta actually walk the walk.
The Influencer Pay Gap Instagram was started amidst the showdowns between brands and followers who were tired of tacky, hollow Black Lives Matter solidarity posts. As more and more Black influencers shared their stories about how brands and agencies had mistreated, unpaid and tokenised them it became clear the problem was unfortunately incredible common.
The account called out for influencers to anonymously share their highest paid jobs and, importantly, include their race and details about their follower numbers. Their goal? To “take a solid stance against the disparities in opportunities, pay and visibility between black and non-black influencers.”
Black influencers report consistently lower pay than their white counterparts, some being paid as little as $18.00~ AUD for whole TikTok videos or not being paid at all—just sent products. Last time we checked, nobody was paying their rent with free skincare. That influencer who got paid $2,700 for a post? They only had 7,000 followers on Instagram. But yep, you guessed it. They’re white. Meanwhile, a Black influencer with 35,000 followers got less than $1000 for a post.
The account now has over 15,000 followers and is growing, despite only being active since the 8th of June. As well as exposing the consistent underpaying of Black content creators, the account is shining a light on how other non-white, LGBTQI+, disabled and politically vocal influencers are being ripped off. One LGBTQI+ influencer was paid $21,800~ AUD less than other influencers for the same campaign. Truly a case of the more you scroll the worse it gets.
While the Influencer Pay Gap account is still pretty young, influencers are already thanking the account for the work it’s doing in helping to level the playing field. Though there are absolutely factors that influence who gets paid what beyond just their race, follower count, and engagement and many are calling for more men to reveal their fees, this kind of initiative could help hold those with the influencer marketing budgets way more accountable.
Here’s hoping it makes a difference long term, brands start putting their money where their mouth is, and Black influencers get their well-deserved cold hard cash.