Industry • Best Practice
Jun.15,2021By Boulevard Staff
When Pride month comes around each year, businesses across the country roll out their corporate rainbows. But supporting the LGBTQIA+ community is so much more than a colorful June; it’s imperative for salons, spas, and other beauty businesses to create spaces that are welcoming and inclusive for all folks every time of year.
Beauty has no gender and exists beyond norms. The businesses that can embody that freedom and acceptance will be well on their way to meaningful collaboration with the LGBTQIA+ community all year round. Here are three ways beauty businesses can invest in inclusivity and create safer spaces for LGBTQIA+ clientele.
The chasm of difference between prices for men’s and women’s services has become something of a salon industry joke; even customers are in on it. Gender-neutral pricing doesn’t just level the playing field, it throws open the door for clients of all genders. Non-binary and gender nonconforming folks shouldn’t have to squeeze themselves into your salon’s idea of a man’s or woman’s haircut, and neither should clients who identify as men or as women, for that matter. Salons that offer gender-neutral services and gender-neutral pricing can focus more on serving the client and their personal self-expression instead of fitting someone’s style into a predefined beauty category for purely operational reasons.
Speaking of personal self-expression, it’s important for salons and spas to emphasize true open-minded listening among their staff. Because hair and beauty can be such powerful ways to develop and perform one’s identity, clients often know what they want before they ever sit down in the chair. Misgendering clients by forcing one’s own interpretation of beauty on them is hurtful and does not create a safe space. Instead, stylists and beauty practitioners should listen deeply and deliver what clients are looking for to provide a positive and identity-affirming service experience. Take care to practice radical listening and provide customers with the styles and services they want, not the ones that you think they should have.
Using inclusive language is one of the easiest and most important ways beauty businesses can create safer spaces for their clientele. It also is an element of service that extends across the entire client experience, from visiting your salon or spa website to checking out after a treatment. In addition to using inclusive language during appointments themselves, list staff members’ pronouns on public profiles (like your company website or booking platform). This shows that your business is aware of the importance of pronouns and respects the words people use to refer and relate to themselves. Then on the client side, make note of clients’ preferred pronouns in your customer database to ensure that your entire staff treats clients with respect and dignity each time they visit.
It may not be possible to maintain a 100% gender neutral space 100% of the time, but beauty businesses can and should aim to create safe spaces that protect and honor all people. The Canada-based Dresscode Project is a pioneer in this distinction and in creating salon environments that are supportive and inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. We recommend that beauty businesses interested in inspiration and guidance about creating safer spaces check out the Dresscode Project Salon Alliance.
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