It’s one thing to celebrate diversity on specific days of the year, like Pride Month and Juneteenth, for example. It’s another thing to go beyond performative allyship and to exemplify compassion and proactive advocacy for historically oppressed communities. In this piece, we highlight tips from members of Aisle Planner’s Diversity Committee on ways to diversify your vendor partners and clients.
Performative Versus Proactive
Building trust is one of the most important parts of the foundation of any relationship. According to Terrica, CEO of Cocktails & Details, fostering genuine relationships with vendors and clients is a top priority. The internalization of thoughts and biases can impact the degree to which you’re willing to be proactive versus performative. Being performative ultimately means to perform or show solidarity merely for appearances. By contrast, proactive allyship is the opposite of reactive, and it means to continuously unlearn and re-evaluate one’s privilege in the context of showing solidarity with minority groups. Terrica advises to immerse and genuinely invest in underrepresented communities.
“We want to make sure couples and guests feel safe.” -Terrica CEO of Cocktails & Details
Express your solidarity by building relationships with vendors who proudly serve couples that identify with a minority group. Take the time to educate yourself about the challenges that minority groups face in the context of wedding planning. In order to do that effectively, it takes a series of ongoing conversations with other industry professionals about how to optimally serve BIPOC couples, LGBTQIA+ couples, and couples who identify with a variety of religions and faiths.
An example of what it could look like to incorporate allyship into your work is to invite your clients and vendor partners to witness your conversations about related topics. Consider creating a social media post or story reflecting on what you learned about a minority’s lived experience in the wedding planning journey. Invite a fellow wedding vendor to discuss diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging-themed (DEIB) topics on a live video or recorded interview with you. Ask questions, share and showcase lived experiences by vendors and couples to help normalize the conversation on your platform. This is a strong way to demonstrate by example how much you value DEIB.
Impact Versus Intent
Kristen Palladino, CEO of Equally Wed encourages wedding professionals to examine and reflect on their ‘why.’ Why are you a wedding professional? Why do you want to fulfill your mission in the wedding industry? Develop a deep connection with how your ‘why’ relates to supporting a diverse set of engaged couples.
“Don’t do it for the money; don’t make money off people’s identities.”-Fausto Pifferer, CEO of Blue Elephant Events & Catering.
Be aware of why you take action to celebrate and promote diversity. Notice whether you’re promoting something because the month or day of the year is associated with an awareness related to a minority group. “Don’t just follow the herd mentality,” Pifferer mentioned.
In the same ways, you strategize how to differentiate your business, get creative with what actions you can take online, in your business processes, and in the way you court your clients such that they both align with your values and champion diversity and inclusion. Accountability to self and others can play a critical role in making a real impact. Create an intimate cohort of fellow wedding professionals to hold one another accountable to your DEIB goals throughout each season.
When you publish a blog article or social media post, evaluate your intent against the potential impact of your actions. If you’re unsure about how your content will come across, especially if it highlights specific cultures or identities, consult a fellow wedding professional who identifies with that culture or identity. Be responsible for the composition of your content, and remember that impact always trumps intent 100% of the time.