Today's work environment is much more progressive than a few decades ago, but there is always room for improvement. Salons come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they usually have in common is a diverse group of employees.
The LGBTQ community has always been present in salons since the very beginning, and they remain, in many forms, leaders in the industry still today. Today's largest customer base and workers are gen z, millennials, and gen x. They’re educated, they’re socially savvy, and the majority tend to be socially conscious. To keep up with an ever-evolving society, certain aspects such as language needs to evolve to coincide with the times. For example, asking someone’s pronouns when first meeting them has simply become the norm. It’s respectful and it’s the new normal. In addition, gender neutral terms and language is a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing work staff.
The same thing goes for employee dress codes. There shouldn’t be a determination of what’s “acceptable“ based on a given employee’s assigned gender at birth. How someone identifies is up to them and shouldn’t be forced on them because of societal norms. All forms of beauty expression remain the discretion of the individual themselves and should therefore, be celebrated. Another area that has room for improvement is bathrooms. Gender neutral bathrooms should be a given, especially if they are single use bathrooms.
Furthermore, there is no longer a need to charge different pricing when it comes to hair cutting or colouring. Instead, salons should use terms like “clipper cut/ pixie “,” Mid length cut”, “long length cut“ and colour applications, with standard pricing for each service, thereby catering to all. A customer’s anatomical or biological differences does not and should not change the time needed to complete a given service. Therefore, gender neutral pricing should be an easy fix.
Stylists are generally one of the first people to find out when someone is “coming out”. Clients are often very open and develop a personal relationship with their stylist. We therefore hold the power to assist individuals in realizing their full potential. That power evidently comes with responsibility, which is why using the right language is important.
Making sure we use our social media accounts is also a vital element. For example, just putting your pronouns on your Instagram is a sign of respect. Sign up with “Strands for Trans” which is a way to say you’re a safe space.
Lastly, be active in your local community. I once heard an interesting quote that stays with me until this day: “sometimes we do hair for the bills, sometimes we do it for art and sometimes we do it because we should.” Sometimes I offer free, or reduced pricing to people who I know are struggling. Not only is it important to put good karma out in the world, but just being someone to vent to without judgment is what we would also want, if we were in their shoes. Making them feel good about themselves could easily save their lives. As the saying goes “be the change you want to see.” This is an opportunity to do right, even when the world tends to be a few steps behind.