If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last few months educating yourself about racial injustices. You may realize how the systems and industries you’re a part of are responsible for perpetuating racial inequalities. Looking back, I must acknowledge the lack of Black creators at events and press trips I was invited to. I’ll admit at that time, I didn’t think much about it. Today, I realize what a privilege it is to not be phased and affected by the lack of diversity. So what roles do we have in making the influencer space more inclusive?
I’m constantly exploring and educating myself in the ways I can make the influencer space more anti-racist. Charlotte Williams is the founder of SevenSix — a diversity-focused influencer marketing agency. She has been paving the way for inclusivity in the influencer space.
Charlotte joins Her Life, By Design to discuss the realities of inequality and lack of diversity in the industry. She explains the power influencers have in making the space more inclusive and holding brands accountable. We chat about the responsibilities that influencers and bloggers — no matter the size of our audiences — have in encouraging brands to do better.
A Need for a Diverse Agency
Promoting diversity is not a trend. However, many of us are late to join the movement. Charlotte’s answer to that is SevenSix — a diverse influencer marketing agency. She has always been interested in the data and analytics of social media, which led her to start SevenSix in 2019.
The agency combines Charlotte’s digital marketing expertise with a topic that was severely lacking in the industry: diversity and inclusion. She saw how prevalent the absence of diversity was in the realm of social media marketing.
For Charlotte and SevenSix, diversity comes naturally to them. Everyone on the SevenSix team is a Black woman. Additionally, SevenSix proudly works with freelancers of all races and backgrounds. Having an immensely diverse team has given SevenSix the superpower of identifying inclusion. Every campaign that comes through the agency is an inclusive one.
“If we have a campaign, even if it’s for a Black haircare brand, we will make sure that within the influencers that we work with — they may all be Black, but they will be different shades, they will have different hair types, they will be from different backgrounds, they might be LGBTQ, plus size…”
Having such a diverse team means it isn’t normal for SevenSix to have a campaign that isn’t inclusive. Unlike most influencer marketing agencies, SevenSix has the connections and networks to sustain incredibly diverse campaigns.
The Elephant in the Room: Influencer Pay Gaps
It’s no secret that pay gaps exist in the influencer space. Luckily, SevenSix hasn’t experienced this due to the fact that they have control over the budget for campaigns that come their way. Charlotte hasn’t paid anyone differently from what their work is worth. From her experience as an influencer herself, she hasn’t worked with anyone who has paid her less than she deserves.
However, she is fully aware that large pay gaps and inequality exists in this space. She points listeners in the direction of @influencerpaygap to find out more. Charlotte reinforces the important rule for all influencers to know their worth. She acknowledges that many Black creators are being paid less for the same deliverables as their white counterparts.
Knowing how uncomfortable and taboo the subject of payment can be, Charlotte makes herself available to influencers of SevenSix. She devotes time slots in her calendar to help influencers navigate the ways they can sort their pricing structure, as well as ask questions about their account’s growth and analytics.
When it comes to discovering your worth as an influencer, Charlotte says it’s all in the data. She shares some actionable tips in this episode for influencers in regards to setting the appropriate rates for your time and work.
Making the Influencer Space More Inclusive
If you’re tired of the lack of diversity, inclusivity, and inequalities in the influencer space, Charlotte reminds listeners not to underestimate the power you have in promoting someone’s brand.
One of the ways in which influencers can create a huge impact is by holding brands accountable. “As an industry, we have to take it upon ourselves to create the rules and to make sure we do things properly because we don’t have anyone who is telling us to do anything different,” Charlotte encourages.
When working with a brand, don’t be afraid to ask how many Black creators are part of the campaign. “If you do take on the campaign, ask who else will be a part of it. That way, you can assess if it fits your standards. Everyone has a different standard of what inclusivity looks like.”
If a campaign fits your standards, move ahead. Additionally, if you receive a campaign pitch and you aren’t interested in participating, recommend it to a fellow POC or Black creator who would be a great fit. Charlotte advises looping your friends directly, making introductions in your response email. But before we can do this, we need to make sure our own circles and feeds are diverse.
The Importance of Speaking Up
Charlotte acknowledges that it can sometimes feel very difficult to speak up. “I feel like in this industry, we naturally feel like something can be taken away from us very quickly.”
However, she thinks it is necessary to risk it because it’s for the greater good. “I think it’s really important to risk what you think is going to happen because 9 out of 10 times, it’s probably not going to happen and something better will come from it.”
It is important to be mindful of the brands you want to promote and support. Charlotte reminds listeners not to be afraid of speaking your mind, so long as you do it politely.
How Diversity Can Help PR Agencies Get Ahead
You may recall the “Pull Up or Shut Up” campaign that was started by CEO Sharon Chuter on June 3rd. The campaign urged companies and brands all across the United States to take their support of the Black Lives Matter movement seriously. It was a step in making the industries around the world more inclusive.
Brands were encouraged to reveal how diverse their staff is. Companies took part in the challenge by sharing the total percentage of Black employees and the positions they hold.
Many marketing and PR agencies are also guilty of not having a diverse staff, and there is no excuse. Charlotte encourages listeners to take action, “no matter what your job is and where you sit on the hierarchy, you can make a difference.”
Start by speaking to HR, your manager, or even hiring a creative freelancer for a project who is from a different background and mindset. These actions ensure that you’ll be able to reach communities outside of the ones you’ve created and are a part of.
“Many brands miss out on huge sales and numbers by excluding people from their story,” Charlotte reminds. In fact, companies with diverse teams out-perform their competition by 35%. For instance, 10 white people solving a problem will come up with a solution that works for them. But a diverse group of people will solve multiple problems for multiple people.
Tune into this episode as Charlotte shares the many ways in which diversity can help brands of all sizes get ahead. She also shares actionable tips in which influencers can implement to ensure they are making changes within the industry.
The Power in Normalizing Diversity
If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last few months, it’s that diversity needs to be normalized.
“I find diversity natural because I’ve always been the other. I’ve always been someone that is the addition that makes something diverse. Whereas when I look at my family and my friends, or the people I surround myself with, diversity is natural because that’s my lifestyle. That’s who I am.”
We [non-POC allies] have been part of systems and industries where diversity is a rarity and we have to take matters into our own hands. In order to create a more diverse space, we need to take daily action.
Paving the way for change is not easy. Charlotte delivers hard-hitting truths to listeners, explaining why diversity is desperately needed in the industry. If you’re striving for change, tune in, and take note of the many ways in which you can help transform the influencer space.
By working together, we can make the influencer space more inclusive.
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Charlotte’s IG: https://www.instagram.com/charlottesevensix/
SevenSix Influencer Network: https://www.sevensixagency.com/our-talent
Sustainably Influenced podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sustainably-influenced/id1495260552
8 Steps to Take to Make the Influencer Industry More Anti-Racist: https://christinagalbato.com/influencer-industry-more-antiracist/