Business tips

How your business can support the LGBTQ+ community in a meaningful way


How your business can support the LGBTQ+ community in a meaningful way

Yes, your rainbow logo looks beautiful and your Pride Month merch truly catches attention. However, if you really care about supporting the LGBTQ+ community, there is much more to be done in addition to displaying symbols of solidarity. Although a visible manifestation of your support is always a good idea, if you fail to follow it with a more specific action, it may come off as rather performative. And we know that you want to do something much more meaningful than that! This is why we’ve prepared a short guide on how you, as a beauty business owner, can support your local LGBTQ+ community in a way that truly makes a difference.

1. Create an inclusive, healthy workplace for your employees

Before you start waving rainbow flags, it’s necessary to take a look at your own metaphorical backyard.

Adopt diverse hiring practices

What does “inclusiveness” mean in practice? It’s not just a trendy buzzword to toss on your job offer. Begin by adopting diverse hiring practices and go truly open to employing specialists from any and all backgrounds and communities including LGBTQ+. And no, that doesn’t mean that you should go out and hire a “token gay” to make your salon look “woke” - it’s all about treating your applicants with the utmost respect, evaluating them based on their skills and nothing else. Make sure to use inclusive language, both in the job description and when talking with the candidates, look beyond the stereotypes, don’t assume anything based on someone’s appearance and respect their pronouns.

Set a no-tolerance policy for discrimination

What’s absolutely crucial is that you should have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind. It shouldn’t just be a non-spoken rule - create written policies where you make your stance clear. Furthermore, you should really act on your words, and make sure to listen to your employees when they tell you that something is wrong. A good leader recognises not only major, visible cases of discrimination but also seemingly small, subtle displays of disrespect and takes them very seriously. Make sure your LGBTQ+ employees feel safe enough to speak to you!

Get to know more about writing salon policies!

Remember that the client is not always right

As a business owner, it seems like you are expected to cater for your clients' every single need, smiling politely even if they are getting agitated or behave in a questionable manner. However, it shouldn’t be the case. Yes, you have to always treat them with respect and not allow yourself to insult them even if they are acting out, but by all means, you can (and should) refuse service if they misbehave towards you, your other customers or employees. Discrimination against an LGBTQ+ person on your premises is more than enough of a reason for doing that.

Read our article on when and how to fire a client!

It’s not only your employees who you should expect to follow certain rules, but you can also establish policies for your customers. Stating clearly what kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and what will happen when a client chooses not to comply not only gives you something to refer to whenever such a situation arises, but also lets your LGBTQ+ clients know that they can expect respect and fairness in your salon.

Read our article on hair salon rules for clients!

2. Ensure your salon is a safe haven for your LGBTQ+ clients

The beauty community is arguably one of the most diverse and openly supportive communities out there, however, it still has a lot of issues that we, as a collective, must recognise.

Educate yourself and your employees

There are a lot of outdated viewpoints and harmful stereotypes in play that oftentimes mistreat LGBTQ+ clients the worst (“women should have long hair”, “men should have short hair”, “barbers are only for men, hairstylists are only for women”, “colourful nails are for women only”, “if you go to a spa, you must be gay”, “a woman with short hair must be a lesbian”). Unfortunately, some specialists, instead of really listening to their clients, make assumptions and act based on their own perception of how someone “should” look. Such behaviour usually does not stem from malice, but rather an ignorance and omnipresent preconceptions. This is why it’s essential to keep an open mind and keep educating yourself and others around you. Train your staff on diversity and inclusivity - the best way to do this would be by inviting an LGBTQ+ educational speaker who will explain why certain behaviours are harmful and how you should communicate with your clients to create a friendly environment.

Consider switching to gender-neutral pricing

There’s also the issue of pricing, where clients with feminine or gender-neutral appearances are charged higher prices for a “masculine” haircut, or are being denied service at “womanly” hair salons or “manly” barber shops. Fortunately, we can now see a big change for the better, with places such as Mr Snipsnipp in Sheffield, which is openly queer-friendly and gender-neutral, or Barbarette in London, which declares gender-neutral pricing, where “[they] charge on the basis of the work [they] do for you, not on your gender”. A similar thing is happening with nail salons - once seen as exclusively “female” spaces, they are now getting more and more inclusive, welcoming all clients looking to get their nails done, regardless of their gender affiliation (or lack thereof).

Gender-neutral pricing removes the unnecessary division between “feminine” and “masculine” services, making your menu much more inclusive right off the bat. Once you stop deeming certain styles as “for men” or “for women”, you already let your clients know that you do not care about outdated tags. Gender-neutral pricing is fairer, more logical and more profitable for all parties involved.

3. Ask your LGBTQ+ employees for advice

Do you want to do something meaningful for a certain community? Ask the members of it what they would actually benefit from! Even having the best intentions, you may not be able to realise all of their struggles by yourself, so it’s only logical to ask for their opinion on the matter. In general, whenever you work on any solution that relates to inclusivity, from creating your salon policies to organising a training session or preparing a diversity-friendly hiring protocol, ask your LGBTQ+ employees for advice (and listen to their voices). It’s the best and most foolproof way to avoid accidental performativity.

At the same time, be ready for their feedback. Do not ask for their ideas if you are not planning to commit. Ignoring their opinion will clearly show that you want to appear engaged but are either not able to put your money where your mouth is or you think you know better than them what they need.

4. Support the community locally

If you look around, there are probably several initiatives that allow you to support your local LGBTQ+ community with either a donation or some other form of aid. Providing funding for a worthy cause is a fantastic way to show your support, as it creates a direct impact, and we encourage you to do so if only you can afford it. As mentioned in the previous point, you should definitely ask your LGBTQ+ peers for a recommendation when it comes to choosing a specific cause to support.

What else can you do? Consider offering free haircuts to queer teens who struggle to get funding or free make-up lessons to transgender people. Show them that your salon is a safe spot where they can feel at home.

5. Go beyond the stereotypes

Lastly - remember that LGBTQ+ folks are not a collective unit, but a nuanced community full of people from different backgrounds and enjoying different lifestyles. When celebrating Pride, it’s important to avoid generalizations and keep treating people as individuals. Not all your LGBTQ+ employees will be happy to be featured on your social media in June, and you should respect that. They won’t magically know everything there is to know about local initiatives, as they may not be active members of the community, and it’s also perfectly normal. Some of them may not be even willing to engage at all. When celebrating diversity, it’s important to not get yourself caught in this weird mindset that makes you perceive your employees or clients entirely through the lenses of their identity or sexual orientation, while first and foremost they should be your peers, workers, customers and, most importantly, human beings. So make sure you listen to all voices and be respectful of another person’s boundaries. This alone will make you a great ally!

Hopefully, we have managed to give you some ideas on how to create a more LGBTQ+ friendly beauty business. If you are looking for some inspiration, make sure to check out Mr Snipsnipp and Barbarette’s Booksy profiles. Their reviews say it all - salons that go that extra mile to ensure their queer employees and clients feel welcome are getting all the love and respect they deserve. So let’s not stop at celebrating Pride Month with some pretty rainbow-themed knick-knacks - let’s celebrate diversity all year round with choices that really matter!

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