As a new year begins, we find ourselves at a point of reflection on everything personal and professional. It's important to continue to think about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in the new year because it affects how potential clients and other wedding professionals perceive and interact with your brand. In turn, it can also increase your productivity and impact your bottom line. DEIB values already align with the most timeless values including but not limited to—integrity, collaboration, curiosity, and responsibility. Learn more about how you can apply these values to your business model this year and find a helpful action sheet to guide you along the way!
Curiosity & Collaboration
Diversify your vendor network by seeking out folks who come from different backgrounds with different skill sets and experiences. In collaboration, diversity becomes the catalyst for innovation and creativity. By default, this effort is what can differentiate one business from another. Fortunately, this opportunity is accessible through dozens of national and international industry associations.
With your network, you have the option and convenience of delegating and developing new ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have been inspired without diversity of perspective. For example, there are many wedding planners seeking to plan their first Indian wedding. Building strategic and diverse business partnerships, discussing subcontract options, and opening the floor to collaboration can lead to more opportunities and referrals.
When a potential client is interested in a planner for their Indian wedding, it’s not always the case that the planner is experienced in Indian styles or traditions. However, with a diverse network, that planner is in a position to offer a versatile proposal. It could include collaboration with another planner who specializes in Indian weddings. Alternatively, that planner would know exactly to whom they can refer the potential client. Many industry partnerships and referral contracts include kickbacks if the referred vendor closes a contract with the client. These are only a few examples of what’s possible. Read Working with Venues to Diversity Their Preferred Vendor Lists for more insight!
Strategic Networking Takes Intention
Consider what you need in order to stay motivated about connecting with pros who specialize in something outside of your zone of genius. Something like a group chat may be a designated space for asking questions and supporting one another through low and high seasons. Try creating a monthly call to keep in touch with individuals or a group within your network, and take turns leading each discussion. The group can take the structure of a resource group. Whatever keeps strategic networking enticing for you is a path worth exploring.
Integrity & Responsibility
With every profession comes responsibility. In the wedding industry, it’s all about being responsible for the client experience. At every touchpoint with our clients, we strive to maintain integrity. Responsibility and integrity are critical in creating a client experience that makes them feel held, understood, and cared for from the beginning. All that said, the language on your website and your social media presence make an impression on potential clients that either makes them feel like they belong or feel like they don’t. Take action towards communicating that you value inclusion.
Break down gender roles in the industry by shifting the language on your website to more inclusive terms. For example, replace the word “bridal” with “wedding” in reference to attire, attendants, and suite. Notice other exclusive language that you may use on your website, contracts, marketing collateral, and email. Do you have a diverse set of couples and wedding styles in your portfolio? What are some actions you can take in the new year to introduce more diversity in your photo gallery?
DEIB is like air—it’s everywhere, and it’s connected with everything we do. Sometimes, reflecting on the way you evaluate your own progress in your DEIB journey can glean valuable insights about what you can do to improve it. For the sake of normalizing the journey, extend an invitation to a fellow wedding pro to join you in making a commitment to translate your core values into inclusive behaviors.
Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Action Sheet
Created by Terrica, Fausto Pifferrer, Kirsten Palladino, & Brian Green
Consider these action items as you plan for the new year:
☐ Identify how you want to show up (as an ally, an advocate, or an activist).
☐ Identify the needs of those underserved clients.
☐ Identify underrepresented creative partners in your market.
☐ Follow and engage with 5 diverse colleagues each month on social media.
☐ Identify 3 diverse educators and experts in the industry you would want to learn from.
☐ Review your website and social media: would a person of another race, gender identity, or sexual orientation feel welcomed and understood?
☐ If you’re ready to serve LGBTQ+ clients, change all your language to gender-neutral language, seek out LGBTQ+ vendors as creative partners and consider getting LGBTQ+ Inclusive Certified by Equally Wed Pro.
☐ Lift up diverse voices instead of speaking for them.
☐ Be a connector:
☐ Introduce an underrepresented creative partner to a mainstream venue.
☐ Expose/introduce an underserved market to mainstream creative partners (i.e., an open house, "Evening with the Experts," styled shoot, un-wedding).
☐ Be a catalyst:
☐ Request diverse educators at mainstream conferences and workshops.
☐ Request the diversity stats of your paid advertising.
☐ Be a participant:
☐ Donate your time.
☐ Attend events.
Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Action Sheet
Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Workbook