In 2022, our society is more aware of gender equality and diversity than ever before. And as our industry recovers from the repercussions of the pandemic, the key pillars of a successful salon business include adaptation, innovation, and progression. Aligning your salon business as a forward-thinking and inclusive business is critical for its future success.
If you’re looking for more information on how to become a more inclusive salon that welcomes and celebrates people of all backgrounds, beliefs and identities, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re sharing what it means to be a fully inclusive salon in 2022. We also catch up with the Pulp Riot artist and gender-neutral stylist and educator, Federico Damiani to see how the industry has changed to become more inclusive over the years and what more can be done.
How To Create An Inclusive Salon Space For Your Clients
Did you know that The Equality Act 2010 protects clients from discrimination? The law states that when providing goods and services, you must not discriminate (directly or indirectly) against anyone on the grounds of:
- Gender reassignment.
- Pregnancy/maternity, e.g. breastfeeding.
- Marriage and civil partnership.
- Religion or belief.
- Sexual orientation.
By reading this article and taking an open view on salon inclusivity, you are already taking the first steps toward becoming an inclusive destination to attract a broader range of clientele. It may seem obvious, but you are more likely to attract new clients if they feel that your salon business represents them accurately and respects their voices. It is this respect and openness that will ultimately lead to positive word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat bookings.
What is salon inclusivity?
Being an inclusive salon not only means that you welcome many different people through your salon doors, but it also means that you can correctly serve these clients so that they feel included, cared for, and respected.
Inclusivity can take many forms, from the ability to service clients with specific hair types or particular disabilities to removing all references of a specific gender within your salon marketing and branding. We understand that your salon can’t be all things to all people, but in the areas where you can make a difference, this is something that will undoubtedly set you apart from your competitors.
To be an inclusive salon in 2022 means that you can create a safe space for every human being. A space where there is no fear of showing who we really are. Not only clients but also stylists.
An inclusive salon is a place where you can be whoever you want, and there will always be respect.
Nobody will always be able to know everything, and making mistakes while we’re learning and educating ourselves in inclusivity is normal.
The world changes every day, and so do people. The important thing is showing that a space is safe, ready to learn and welcomes EVERYONE.
Five ways to create a more inclusive salon business
- Recruit the right talent.
- Remove gender from your service offering.
- Use the correct terminology.
- Adapt your messaging.
- Offer bespoke treatments.
1. Hire a diverse range of skilled staff
The first step towards becoming a more inclusive and diverse salon business starts with your team. In 2022, representation matters, and it is essential to build and grow your team with inclusivity in mind – there are many benefits in doing so. By hiring a diverse range of staff from different groups and communities, you will broaden your service offering whilst making space for original ideas, fresh perspectives and, ultimately, new clients.
Find your focus
Consider hiring team members that specialise in a particular discipline or identify with specific communities depending on how you want to hone in on inclusivity and diversity within your salon.
For example, suppose you own a hair salon, and you want to broaden your service offering to cater to clients with Afro and textured hair. You will need to ensure that your salon has team members with the correct skill set and knowledge base to be able to provide the best quality service for this demographic of clientele.
Similarly, if you want your salon to be fully inclusive towards trans and non-binary clients, employing a member of staff who can educate you and your team in this area is an excellent step toward becoming a more inclusive and diverse business.
And when you find the right staff, incentivise them to stay with education opportunities, a thriving, inclusive workplace and fair pay. Anybody with equal skill, effort, and responsibility should be paid the same, regardless of their identity, race, or physical ability.
2. Provide services based on treatments, not gender
Gender-neutral pricing and treatments help to eliminate discrimination within the industry. By removing any mention of specific genders from your treatment list, you are opening up your salon to be more inclusive, which will, in turn, make you more likely to attract a wider pool of clients that will engage with your salon.
Remove terminologies on your price list such as ‘Ladies cut and blow‘ and ‘Gents haircuts‘. Instead, you can simply state the type of service/treatment available, e.g. ‘Cut and blow for long hair.’
Gender identity should not dictate your pricing. Instead, price your services by the time required and the cost of materials. You could also price your services by the experience level of the therapist/stylist/colourist.
The most significant change in the industry to become more inclusive has been introducing a genderless price list. Prices should be based on your hair and not who you are.
3. Using the correct terminology
If you have never had to question your own gender before, the correct terminology to use may be entirely new for you. Here are a few terms to familiarise yourself with.
- Cisgendered: When somebody’s gender identity matches their gender at birth.
- Non-binary: Not identifying with either male or female genders.
- They/Them: The pronoun used by people who don’t identify with either male or female genders.
- LGBTQ+: LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer/questioning and more.
- Gender fluid: A gender fluid person’s gender identity might change a lot, or it might change over a long period of time.
According to the Dress Code Project, an incentive that aims to educate and empower stylists to give people haircuts that help them look the way they feel:
93% of LGBTQIA+clients have been misgendered during their appointment at the salon/barbershop.
It is essential to address your clients using the correct pronouns to avoid misgendering anyone. Some people, including transgender people, identify as male or female; others may have a more fluid view of their gender, and some don’t identify with any gender at all.
What is most important is that anybody that comes through your salon door feels they are somewhere they feel comfortable. With that said, it is entirely acceptable to ask what your client’s preferred pronoun is.
Alternatively, you could ask any new clients to fill out a new client questionnaire where you will have the opportunity to gather this information before they step into the salon.
Every post on my Instagram containing a client has also their pronouns at the start of the caption (only with the client’s consent). This shows respect towards those sitting on my chair and is also a gentle request towards the people who comment on my posts to refer to them with the correct pronouns.
If you’re interested in learning more about running a gender-neutral salon, we have previously taken a deep dive into The Rise Of The Gender Neutral Salon. Here, we spoke to two salon owners who are disrupting traditional ideologies within the salon industry.
I think the best source to educate yourself on “inclusivity” is to be vulnerable and honest with ourselves when we don’t know something and go to speak with people who are involved in the first place in that topic.
Nobody will ever get offended if they see that you’re exposing yourself to learning new terms just to respect the human being in front of you.
4. Align your branding and marketing
Now that you’ve considered hiring the right people to help your salon be more inclusive and you understand the correct terminology, the next piece of the puzzle focuses on your salon branding, marketing and messaging.
Is your salon’s branding and interior aesthetic leaning towards one particular gender or demographic? As part of your inclusivity efforts, it might be time for a fresh lick of paint and salon refresh. If you are looking for some salon interior inspiration, check out our Salon Design Of The Month series.
Once you have decided on the direction you’d like to take, we recommend giving your social media pages a refresh. Update your bios to state what inclusive services/skills you offer, and don’t forget to show off your work by showing a diverse range of representative images for potential new clients to see.
If you have a website or a Facebook page for your salon business, add an inclusivity and diversity statement to your website. This statement should show how your salon business demonstrates a commitment to building an inclusive and diverse environment. If you can show how you are fulfilling this commitment, it will be more impactful and meaningful for potential new clients and team members.
5. Offer bespoke appointments and treatments
Some clients may have physical, mental or hidden disabilities. For these clients, visiting the salon for a treatment isn’t straightforward. Many salons are busy places with bright lights and loud music. This sensory overload may trigger people with particular mental health conditions or epilepsy. You can help attract clients who require extra consideration by offering bespoke appointments and treatments.
An example may be the advertisement of silent appointments for clients with social anxieties or the availability of quieter, off-peak appointments for clients with sensory considerations.
Other considerations include how your salon caters to people of determination. Do you have accessibility ramps and fully accessible toilets for people with mobility issues? If you’d like to be able to attract these clients, your salon needs to be set up for success in this area.
When I educate other stylists or people out of this industry about inclusivity, I always love reminding them that we’re not talking about gender identity and sexual orientation only.
We’re talking about ALL human beings.
There’s no point in proclaiming ourselves on social media as “INCLUSIVE STYLIST/SALON” if we don’t even know how to support and speak to a person with hidden disabilities, neurological divergencies or any other situation.
I have ADHD, and I love to remind my clients. Not because I want attention, but because I want to make them comfortable on my chair.
If your client tells you that they’re on the autistic spectrum and you don’t know how to approach different situations, there’s only one easy solution: Ask.
When clients sit on my chair, my first question is: “Is there anything in particular that overstimulates you?” Hopefully, the person in your chair will feel in a safe space, and there won’t be any awkward situations during the appointment.
I have clients who can’t stand water on their head, so I just cut their hair dry as quick as possible.
For clients who have intense social anxiety, I always check that the space where I work is almost empty with very few people around.
I have a client that can’t stay sitting on a chair for too long, and I have found myself seated on the floor with my client doing balayage.
I have clients who love twerking in the middle of the salon and singing with me, others who don’t speak to me for 5 hours or speak a lot. And I love it. And I’m proud to be a safe space for them.
Everybody’s different, and we have to make them feel comfortable to be whoever they are in front of us—no matter their gender, mental health, or habits.
Inclusivity and your salon business
When it comes to running or working within a fully inclusive and diverse salon business, it is important to not put too much pressure on yourself as a salon owner, stylist or therapist. As long as you try your best to be more inclusive and keep an open mind, continually learning and developing, clients will respect your efforts.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below.
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