This has been a highly requested blog for a while now, and I finally have the emotional capability to give just a snippet into the ways you can signal inclusion into your business without it becoming tokenism.
This has been a year where many mindset shifts have had to happen, and one of the ways that’s stood out to me (and likely many of you!) is surrounding inclusivity in the wedding industry. For an industry in which the main focus is love, there’s a huge lack of representation not just from a race standpoint, but also sexuality, religion, and more.
One of the biggest faults in our wedding businesses is not highlighting all types of love and signaling to potential clients that they are truly welcome in your space. This does not have to come in the form of a mission statement or even in the types of photos you have. I’m sharing with you three ways that you can make sure inclusion shines bright through your social media channels and websites so potential clients can tell you’ll have their back from the jump!
Bride’s aren’t the only people getting married.
Believe it or not, there are more than just brides and heterosexual couples getting married, and your copy could be seriously scaring them away when all you mention is “bride’s.” Beyond a sexuality standpoint, grooms are also involved in the wedding day process, and it’s important that they are valued just as equally. By labeling and marketing everything towards “bride,” you are automatically excluding a large population of potential clients and that’s never a good thing, even when you have the best of intentions. Look through your inquiry forms, marketing materials, website, anywhere where there’s copy, and choose a more inclusive phrase. I personally use the word “client/client’s.”
Signal to people that your business is a safe space.
I get a lot of business owners that say they don’t know how to show clients that they are equally aligned when they don’t have the work/images to show it. If you can’t show it through imagery, I’d love for you to practice just saying it. How do you say it? By using inclusive language, by incorporating on your site somewhere a statement of belief that ALL people deserve to have vendors and a wedding day that celebrates them, their culture, their stories. On social media you can do this by showing organizations that you and your business support, by partnering with a diverse group of vendors, and celebrating them. By making sure your recommended vendor lists are a diverse group. Anywhere that you can signal inclusivity, the shift needs to be made.
Check your unconscious biases
The work of a business becoming more inclusive is not something that happens overnight, or with the switch of website copy change, or sharing more diverse images. The best thing you can do to make sure your business truly is inclusive and celebratory of ALL people, is to check your unconscious biases. We all have them, but what ends up happening is we get so caught up in the idea of an ideal client, that we let all of those biases show up at our front door. It is imperative that you do the work to make sure your ideal client is not limited to where your biases are. In other words, educate yourself on various cultures, and untangle these biases so that you can see how many other people in the world can truly align with who you’re marketing to. If you never do this difficult work of picking up on your biases, I can guarantee you are isolating groups of people, and you’re leaving money on the table. And you know what? I would go a step further and encourage you to share this with your clients on social media…let them see you are actively engaged in making these changes, and let them (and yourself!) hold you accountable. Social proof is a real thing!
It can be a fine line to walk to make sure your business is genuinely inclusive, but it’s 2020, and it’s time to do the heavy lifting to make sure our businesses are up to speed to serve ALL people. Does this mean that you should forget your ideal client and just accept anyone who walks through the door? Of course not. You should still have ideals, values, and metrics to define your ideal client – but just remember that your client can still be your client even when they look different than you!