I get asked by so many birth and baby business professionals, "How do I get attract expectant or new parent LGBT clients?" Usually I'm asked this for 1 of 3 reasons, or maybe a combination of all of them:
1.) We have a lot of LGBT clients and students, whether in our prenatal or parenting classes or our babywearing or lactation clients at our parenting center in St. Louis, Missouri.
2.) I'm a lesbian, married, with a kiddo.
(The main pic is me and my fabulous family a few years back.)
3.) They simply have not ever had an LGBT client or haven't had very many and they don't know where to start.
Now, if LGBT clients aren't specifically your target market, that's ok. It can't hurt to appear to be more inclusive. And you'll probably find that a lot of LGBT parents may actually be in your target market. Because, for LGBT parents, our sexuality or gender identity is not what defines us- it's just a part of who we are.
So let's get straight (ha) to the point....
1. Use inclusive language
"Ok, so what does this even mean?!?" you ask? Well, it's pretty simple.
Inclusive language simply means that no one is excluded. Your language is open and general enough that it includes everyone that may walk through your doors or read your content or visit your website.
Here are some example that might help give an idea of exclusive vs inclusive:
>Your intake form might ask for Mom's Name and Dad's Name
>Your inclusive intake form might ask for Parent/Guardian and an additional Parent/Guardian
>Prenatal history and physical form may ask about "Father's Medical History"
>An inclusive prenatal history and physical form may ask about a "Father or Donor's Medical History"
>Your blog post might talk about a "Mom and Dad"
>Your inclusive blog post might talk about "Caregivers" or just more generically, "Parents"
>Your website's contact form might ask if the person is Male or Female
>Your website's inclusive contact form might leave a fill in option for Gender, so that they can self identify.
So where do you even start??
There are a few main areas that I advise people to examine first, when making an effort to make the switch to more inclusive language. Obviously this will be specific to your business or practice type, but this should be a good jumping off point:
- Main page
- About me/us page
- Blog posts
- Scheduling system
- Initial Contact or Customer Information Form
- Intake Forms
- Clinical Documentation
- Presentations and lectures
- Handouts and Guides
- Resource Lists
- Marketing Materials
- Welcome packet
- Outreach items such as banners, signs, etc.
- Staff and Subcontractors
- Business Partners
- Referral Partners
As an aside, I had to add "People" to the mix because this is a big one. You can make every effort to be inclusive, but if someone who works for you or with you isn't as inclusive, your efforts will be a moot point. I highly recommend that if you have staff or a team of subcontractors, that you have them take a cultural competency course of some kind (we offer them online. Which is why you should join our Professional Network News so you know when they are coming up!. You business is only as strong as the people who are working for it.
I recommend going through each and every step of your client on-boarding process, pretending you are a client yourself. What would a potential LGBT client see when they come to your site or pick up a brochure? What would they see if they tried to book an appointment online? What questions would they be asked if they called to scheduled a new appointment with a staff member? What forms would they fill out when they arrived? What would they fill out on their client portal or history form? What materials would they receive upon arriving to your office or receiving a welcome packet? What would they be asked by other staff in your office during their appointment? What language will you, yourself, use during an appointment, birth, or shift?
If you examine each small step that the potential client will take to become an actual client, it can help to make sure that it's a welcoming experience from start to finish.
Have an LGBT friend or family member who you're close to? Would they be willing to be a "secret shopper" and test this process out for you and provide feedback? Even better!
One of the additional advantages of considering inclusivity in attracting more LGBT clients is that you are also being more inclusive of all sorts of families- single parents, co-parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and non-traditional families. I've also found that potential clients, who may fall more in the "traditional family type" also notice and appreciate the effort to be inclusive.