2024 Spa & Wellness Trend: rethinking gender identity & inclusivity

gender diversity and inclusivity

It’s time to look a the trends and developments that will rock the spa & wellness industry in 2024. Here’s one in our series and stay tuned for our upcoming guide: 7 SPA & WELLNESS TRENDS FOR 2024: A HOSPITALITY HANDBOOK

Increased discourse around gender diversity and inclusivity in all sectors, including spa and wellness, is leading to changes in practices and policies.

In recent years, there has been increased discourse around diversity, and a notable shift in societal perception around gender identity and inclusivity. 

Traditional binary notions of gender, which have long categorized individuals as either male or female based on biological sex, are being challenged and redefined and many are moving towards acceptance of a spectrum of gender identities, including non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, and transgender.

As awareness around the topic grows, many sectors, including spa and wellness, are re-evaluating traditional gender norms and standards, and thinking about how best to accommodate transgender and non-binary guests – and how to implement related policies and practices. This is in the spirit of inclusivity, as well as due to increasing risk of being accused of discrimination and human rights violations.

A business accused of violating anti-discrimination laws can face legal consequences (lawsuits, penalties, and fines), reputation damage, loss of partnerships and more issues that can create financial strain. Spas in both the US and Canada have faced human rights complaints related to transgender guests in the last few years.

ISPA recently devoted its September 2023 Town Hall to the topic of gender inclusivity. ISPA Chairman, Patrick Huey, lead the discussion, titled Implementing Inclusive Gender Identity Policies & Best Practices, with panelists Brennan Evans (Trilogy), Heidi Smith-Mullen (Miraval), Jessica Swartley (Stowe Mountain Lodge), Catherine Warren (Arch Amenities Group), and Kristen Eber (Rosefinch Spa), with each sharing their views and experience. And earlier, in 2022, Spa Business published an article titled, “Everyone’s talking about: Going gender neutral” stating that “Many trans and non–binary people would love to visit a spa but report having concerns about the experience and the welcome. It’s time to go gender neutral.”

What this means for spas and wellness businesses will depend on the business’ demographic and location, and what local laws and human rights codes dictate. Some of the topics under consideration when it comes to practices and policies around gender diversity and inclusivity include:

Policies & procedures: Reviewing and updating policies and procedures, the design of which may depend on local laws and codes. These policies might include revising dress codes to be gender-neutral or accommodating, ensuring equal access to all amenities, and providing clear guidelines for handling any related complaints or issues.

Facilities: Some businesses are creating gender neutral spaces, be it in locker rooms or smaller spaces, like single use restrooms, or providing private, lockable changing rooms or stalls, to provide options for all genders. 

Staff training: How best to educate team members about gender diversity, inclusivity, and sensitivity, including the importance of using inclusive language and treating all guests with respect and dignity. Plus, training on how to manage related complaints or issues while adhering to policy. 

Marketing and Communications: using inclusive language and imagery in marketing materials and representing diversity in advertising and promotional materials to make potential guests feel welcome.

Feedback mechanisms: Creating systems guests to provide feedback on their experiences to  help identify and address any issues related to inclusivity that may arise and to make the experience more comfortable for everyone involved.

Inclusivity in hiring: Encouraging diversity in hiring practices to create an inclusive workplace where employees of all genders feel comfortable and respected.

Legal compliance: As mentioned above, ensuring that policies and practices comply with local and national laws regarding gender identity and expression, as well as other aspects of discrimination and equal treatment.

The evolving landscape of gender inclusivity is not a passing fad but a fundamental shift shaping the future of industries, including spas and wellness. This transformation is indicative of a broader societal evolution that, as the trend continues to gain momentum, will redefine the way businesses operate in many areas.


Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

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