[Interview] The Instagram page exposing racial pay disparity in the Influencer Industry

Last week saw the continuation of black people and anti-racists around the world fighting for racial equality in the form of protests, petitions, taking down statues and speaking out. Amongst the protests on June 8th a brand new instagram page was created. The instagram account – @InfluencerPayGap had one simple aim; to expose the “the disparities in opportunities, pay and visibility between Black and non-Black influencers”.

The instagram quickly grew and in just 4 days had over 17.3k followers and has received plenty praises from influencers, however not without rustling some feathers too. Despite that, a lot of influencers remain thankful for the page.

I spoke to InfluencerPayGap founder, Adesuwa to learn more about her page and the inner workings of influencer industry.

What made you create @InfluencerPayGap ?

“There are a lot of reasons why I started the page, one of the reasons centred around the fact that many didn’t publicly discuss rates. I really wanted to create a space accessible to all, that allows black influencers to gain a rough understanding of what other non-black influencers are charging in their niche. I had seen time and time again black influencers get low-balled and I felt not enough was being done about it, simply because the industry is unregulated and they could rely on the general silence and awkwardness people had when it came to sharing rates. I realised that not everyone had access to groups of people that feel comfortable sharing their rates or how much they charged brands. I wanted a platform where not only did people gain much more confidence when it came to negotiating their worth, they could be equipped with the necessary resources and support system to help them navigate.”

It has been an extremely successful initiative so far and a real eye opener for a lot of influencers who have seen that they have been undervaluing and undercharging themselves. There’s also been a few critics, some have even gone as far as calling the page dangerous. What are your thoughts on this?

“I do not believe [InfluencerPayGap] is dangerous. The goal was transparency and I am proud to see that we achieved that upon launch. The page is helping so many, I’ve had endless messages of people speaking on how they feel seen, heard and how much they’ve learnt. Most concerns around “danger” came from the people behind the budgets and the outreach and most of their concerns, at least the ones I’ve seen, have centred around the need for more context.

Whilst I can agree context is important, calling it dangerous is loaded and unfair. It is disruptive at best. As with any platform that is in its infancy things will be imperfect at the start.

Not only that we prioritise anonymity and there’s only so much context one can give without compromising that. Despite feeling as though the critique was a bit harsh, as someone who genuinely cares about change in the influencer industry, I have made sure to be very intentional about being open to feedback.

We have since created an updated format to the one we launched with that allows for further context. This I believe is a step in the right direction and I believe as time goes on we can draw even more conclusions from the information submitted that provides a much more accurate reflection of the state of the industry.

Another part I have loved is seeing people within the comments realising they were on the same campaign and all paid vastly different amounts despite similarities. Those revelations are important because the next you go into any form of negotiation you are re-energised with a sense of clarity that you will never accept lower than your worth again.”

With a clear problem in the influencer pay world what do you think the immediate steps the influencer industry needs to take to become a fairer place.

“Transparency. Brands and agencies need to be open about their core aims, what are the goals of their campaign, what is the defining metric they are using to determine your impact and how valuable you are to the campaign?

Influencers need to remain informed and unanimously as a whole worked towards choosing not to accept lowballed opportunities. Influencers need to be comfortable with negotiating and also walking away from opportunities.

People need to bring more visibility to the amazing experts, brands and agencies out there who do value those they work with. Theres an overall sense of fear on both brand/agency side and influencer side.

On one end people are afraid of what accountability looks like and the other side people are afraid of losing opportunities.

Generally speaking a culture of openness needs to be fostered, one where people feel safe to voice their thoughts and hold people to account for the better good. In order for all of these things to happen, there needs to be a level of honesty. I do also believe in the establishment of bodies and organisations or unions that equip people with resources they need and a form of standardised rates (not that simple in actuality) that leads to more fairer treatment. Lastly, we need to see empathy, people need to be open to listening to black influencers and allowing them in the rooms.”

What would you say to anyone that may think you are just against brands and agencies?

We are not anti-brand. we are anti exploitation and pro influencer pay disparity awareness.There are brands that treat influencers respectfully across everything from paying influencers on time to fairly compensating them.Those brands should be elevated!

We have also had a few brands and agencies reach out and offer their support, advice, insight and their plans towards making sure they operate as inclusively as possible. There are brands and agencies who are open to listening and understanding.

What are your plans for the future of InfluencerPayGap?

In terms of in it’s immediacy, we definitely want to work on the education piece, ensuring influencers are informed of their rights and how to navigate, no matter where they are in the world and how big their platform is.”


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Words by ClubTolu

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