Megan Garmers from The Bridal Masterclass tackles issues of diversity within the bridal industry.
This past year has brought a lot of topics to the forefront but none quite like the topics of diversity and inclusion. We have seen the death of George Floyd and many others by police brutality spark the Black Lives Matter Movement in a way that we hadn’t seen before, and the increasing awareness of LGBTQIA+ and Trans community rights issues in the news and on social media. There is so much going on, and sometimes it can be overwhelming and confusing. I will explain how it can affect you and your business and why you should care about these topics.
It is crucial to remember that every business, regardless of their industry, needs to be in tune with its target audience and ideal clients. This includes being in tune with the world in which a variety of different people live. Understanding what and why they care about certain issues helps you to understand more about who they are, what and why they buy, and how to connect and engage with them effectively. Most specifically, Gen Z and Millennials care more about aligning their purchases with businesses who stand for more than just making a profit. In fact, more than half will actually spend more on a product or service because of how a particular business’s values align with their own. In other words, you should care about diversity and inclusion not just because these are important issues but also because your ideal client demographic cares about them and it will affect your bottom line.
But it isn’t enough to pretend to care or throw up a photo to seemingly represent your care about diversity and inclusion. Gen Z is very much characterised by calling out businesses that use tokenism to pretend they care. Tokenism is choosing a person, image, or other representation to check off the box. For example, using imagery of a Black bride, an Asian bride, an LGBTQIA+ couple, etc in your marketing but not ensuring that they will be made to feel comfortable in your store. Millennials and Gen Z’s are not interested in buying from companies who use tokenism and believe in actively and publicly calling these businesses out to deter others from spending money with them.
Being in the wedding industry means that most of your target audience will be a younger demographic – right now and for the next decade, it will be Millennials and Gen Z. By not changing the way you present and do business to accommodate them, you are pushing yourself out of business in the wedding industry.
First, you want to do an audit of your business with regards to diversity and inclusion. Think about what you post (and don’t) on social media, the images you have representing your business in advertising and marketing materials, your staff, and all touchpoints of the customer experience journey for your brides.
Second, you want to make sure you understand what you know and don’t know about diversity and inclusion. It is not enough to not be a racist – you must be an anti-racist. If you aren’t sure what that means, I’d suggest starting with the book, “How To Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi. You can also follow activists’ Instagram accounts (@ohioma, @privtoprog, @everdayracism_, @blairimani, and @blklivesmatter) and learn about (and repost on your stories) history, social inequity and what we need to do to right the wrongs of discrimination and oppression plaguing society today. Educating yourself is the first step in making sure you are being authentic in your advocacy.
Third, understand that diversity and inclusion is not a checklist but a way of life. You are bound to make mistakes – we all do. But the important part is learning from them and making sure your response to your mistakes is not one of defensiveness but of humility as a student. Your intention may not have been to hurt anyone but if you are in the position of power and privilege while trying to learn a new perspective of those different from yourself, you need to realise that it is not about you and your intention. When you want to help someone else, your goal is the betterment of their situation. You don’t stop after a first attempt and say, “Well, I tried.” Learning how to be better allies and advocates means having more than a formula for showing a person of color in every 3rd Instagram post or reposting one social justice post to your Instagram stories a day. It is an attitude shift in all parts of your life both online and offline.
Lastly, go out of your way to network and get to know BIPOC wedding professionals. Search them out on Instagram, comment on their posts, follow and repost their work. The more you can diversify your influences online and offline, the more your perspective will change because your world will change. Listen and learn from their experiences, their lives, and do what you can with your positions of power and influence to make the world more equitable for them, you, and your businesses.
Still not sure what you should do to better embrace diversity and inclusion in your business strategy?
Feel free to email me to help you get started on the right path: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also join me on Bridal Buyer’s Instagram Live on 22nd April to talk about actionable steps to be more inclusive.