Elizabeth Wiredu
Oct 12, 2022

Influencers call for regulation to prevent further racial discrimination over pay

The Equality Act 2010 was set up to protect people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society, but research shows influencers regularly face inequality in work due to their race.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone. The Government website states that the legislation is the “basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions, work, education, associations, and transport.”

Inequality in the currently unregulated influencer marketing industry has been exposed by new insight into pay transparency. A report by MSL UK, Just Influence 2022, found a pay gap of 22 per cent between the fees paid to black influencers compared to white ones.

The MSL report added that 35 per cent of respondents felt there was a direct correlation between them speaking out on discrimination issues and brands not approaching them. Influencer and SevenSix Agency founder Charlotte Williams said: “There’s no standardisation in our industry. It’s the wild wild west.

I think about legislation all the time. How can someone decide to pay someone more or less because of how they look? That is illegal. But our industry has the highest disparity between races.

“There’s no rulebook for this industry, and there are no guidelines.”

Scott Guthrie, director-general of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body, said brands “need to be accountable for their actions and be consistent. Now is the time for influencer marketing regulation and legislation. We shouldn’t be scared of that.”

In May, MPs recommended that the Government investigate standards in the influencing industry. They recommended a broad range of legislative reforms and regulation changes to deal with these issues.

Julian Knight, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, said: “It is now up to the Government to reshape the rules to keep pace with the changing digital landscape and ensure proper protections for all.”

The committee was in support of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) creating an influencer code of conduct, which would call on its associated members to make commitments to enhance diversity and inclusion.

PRWeek asked the Government what it thought about the Equality Act 2010 being ignored by media companies and brands with regard to influencers. A spokesperson responded: “The Equality Act protects people from discrimination based on their race. The Government is committed to achieving fairness and equality of opportunity for all, whatever their ethnicity or socio-economic background.

“The Inclusive Britain report sets out how we will build a fairer and more inclusive society for all, with actions across education, health, employment, criminal justice and family support.”

Asked to elaborate on the pay gap, the spokesperson declined to comment further.

The Influencer marketing market size worldwide was valued at a record $16.4bn in August 2022 by Statista.


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