Come behind-the-scenes with us at Timely’s You Belong panel discussion, held on Harmony Day in beautiful Melbourne, Australia.

As a society, we’ve come a long way in how we support and champion the LGBTQIA+ community. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Recently, Timely brought three of Australia’s most prominent LGBTQIA+ activists and educators into the same room to discuss inclusivity, gender identity, and meaningful allyship. 

The panel discussion was facilitated by Senior Vice President of DEIB for EverCommerce – Timely’s parent company – Mary Haddock-Staniland, who is a highly regarded thought-leader and committed LGBTQIA+ advocate, and just so happens to be transgender herself.

Nothing was off the table in this conversation; it’s a must-watch for all small business owners who want to make sure their salon is a safe space for clients and staff.


Mary Haddock-Staniland (she/her) – Senior Vice President of DEIB for EverCommerce, Timely’s parent company

Peta Friend (she/her) – Industry expert and co-founder of Willa & Peta.

Brihony Dawson (they/them) – MC, singer and keynote speaker.

Grace Hyland (she/her) – Influencer and activist.


Mary: What are some of the misconceptions we have as a society around pronouns? 

Peta: I think the misconception is that [pronouns] are just words. But they’re not just words, they’re pronouns that belong to people. Behind every pronoun is an identity and a real person.

Whether you’re non-binary, cis or gay, you know who you are from a very early age. And I think that we need to create spaces – like we’re doing today – where people are accepting and lead with kindness and an open heart.

Brihony: I think it can be difficult because there’s a lot that we want people to learn. I think we need to give our allies space to not get it right. We need to give them space to learn and find the courage to help them learn.

Grace: From my perspective, I’ve seen an actualisation of pronouns – whether it’s on social media where people are able to select their pronouns, or even Timely’s new pronouns feature offering so many ways to identify. There used to be quite a political argument around whether choosing your own pronouns was valid or not, but now [the political argument] has been taken out of the equation, and people now can be actualised in their identity.

Mary: How can salon owners support staff members who use the pronouns they/them?

Brihony: I think it comes down to standing up for your staff. I’m a pretty strong willed person, but there have been times where I haven’t been able to fight for myself in these situations. If you have staff [that use the pronouns they/them] your job is to look out for them.

Peta: This is what being an ally is. Being an ally isn’t a word, it’s an action. We need to have the back of everybody: people who are working in this industry and people who are customers.

Mary: Advocacy is key, right? We can’t thrive without people supporting us.

Mary: How can allies best support the trans and non-binary community?

Peta: I’ll give you an example: recently, I had three women visiting my salon from Melbourne. One of them has been a client of mine for 20 years. She brought two of her girlfriends in and I gave them all amazing facials. 

The next time I saw my regular client, she told me she was so upset with her two girlfriends. In the conversations afterwards, they had been referring to me as he/him. But you know what? She had my back. She educated them when I wasn’t there to do it. That’s what true allyship is.

Brihony: If you hear someone being misgendered and it’s not a slip up, [as an ally] you can correct them, either straight away or later on. 

Mary: What is the most polite way to ask someone what their pronouns are? 

Brihony: Hello, my name is Brihony. My pronouns are they/them. What are yours? 

Grace: My name is Grace and my pronouns are she/her.

Brihony: Oh my goodness, what an interaction. It’s that straightforward.

Mary: For salon owners, what is the best way to start this conversation with their team? 

Peta: If you can afford it, you can get someone to come in [to do diversity and inclusion training]. There are plenty of people who do great informative talks. Get armed with as much knowledge as possible. But a lot of the time, your staff will be educating you as well – it has to be a two-way thing.

Grace: Call a meeting. If you have a workplace where you feel as though you can have open and honest conversations, start with that. These types of things should be the norm in your workplace. 

Brihony: If you have gender diverse people in your workplace, ask them questions about how you can help create a safe and supportive work environment. 

What a conversation. Thank you to Mary, Peta, Brihony and Grace for opening up about their lived experience and sharing their insights with the Timely community. 

Want to learn more about LGBTQIA+ issues? You can start by reading our pronouns explainer here

All salon owners can help make their salon a more inclusive environment by turning on Timely’s new pronouns selector. Surfacing preferred pronouns is a small step that can have a big impact on staff and clients, and can help make life better for people in the beauty industry. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to set up pronouns in Timely here.