How Social Media Diversity Can Improve the Event and Wedding Industry

By now the world is aware of its contributions to the racial injustice that we are witnessing following the death of George Floyd and most recently Rayshard Brooks. These injustices no longer toe the lines of over policing in predominantly black communities. It bleeds into other industries and brings to light the previous disparities that Black People knew existed yet others overlooked and thought to be common place.
Why are Black People protesting and demanding equality? Why haven’t they tried to fix this before? Worthy questions, but the wrong questions to ask. Black People have met head on the evil that America created since this country was founded. In the roots of our Declaration of Independence is systemic violence that was never created to see all people as equal. So it’s without a doubt the reason we see so many glaring issues in every industry on the planet to include the event and wedding industry.
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The old proverb, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, has remained the mindset of so many people for far too long. For so long that people have failed to realize this country was never fixed to begin with. We have always been broken, simply not willing to take off the blinders to realize just how tainted America has always been.

One of the most concerning issues I have is the notion of beauty. When you search for the word ‘women’ on the internet you are delivered white women for the most part. The notion that a planet with 7.8 billion people has been reduced to the fact that, according to Google, the best example of a woman or beauty is only found in a white person.

But it’s not just an issue with Google. White people have been so keen on white people being the source of beauty that it has flowed into how we showcase couples who get married. According to Statista, in 2018, 2.13 million couples were married. Currently we have hundreds of wedding blogs or publishers whose sole focus is showcasing weddings as they occur. Of these hundreds are 10 extremely popular blogs/publishers that have a combined Instagram follower count of 9,137,600 million. Enough to say it would be impossible to not have a variety of couples displayed amongst these ten brands alone.

When a company is established, many times they go into business with like-minded people. It makes the most sense. Time Magazine reports a 2019 survey of 234 companies in the S&P 500 found that 63% of the diversity professionals had been appointed or promoted to their roles during the past three years. While that is promising, it doesn’t state who makes up the diversity professionals. Time further goes on to say that from 1985 to 2016, the proportion of black men in management at U.S. companies with 100 or more employees barely budged–from 3% to 3.2%.

So what does this mean? If you look at the majority of notable companies in the U.S. many of them are less diverse. Many companies have recently decided to support the Black Community by donating millions of dollars to organizations that have been fighting for equal rights for decades. The problem is that while they are donating money, they are making no change to the lack of diversity in C-Suites. The people who have the power to exercise change.

Illustration by Gracia Lam for TIME

We apply this same mentality to what we see in the event and wedding industry. This industry is one of the most visual industries in the world. Those with the most power are white people. What you see on social media platforms like Instagram is a representation of what the most elite event and wedding media companies deem we should focus on – white couples or events with predominantly white people.

How do we change this? Is the answer to showcase more of the BIPOC couples and clients we know exist? Yes, but that’s not enough. To see effective change, publishers and media outlets within the event and wedding industry must move to change what their C-Suites look like. It’s impossible for such publishers and media outlets to understand diversity, inclusion, and culture without doing so. Hire Black writers. Establish a diverse counsel or advisory group. Actively seek out photos that display what the industry actually looks like and serve as a voice to influence other publishers to do the same.

One simple exercise can tell you if you are adding or hindering what diversity looks like. Review your social media feed and count how many times you used a photo of someone in the BIPOC category? Then ask yourself how many photos you used of white people. Who has the majority? If it’s not close to being equal, this is a problem.

These are only a few ways to change, but with the help of BIPOC allies, our industries will change for the better. The goal has always been for us to showcase diversity across social media and within the companies that have held the Black community back.

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