Summer is fast approaching which means intermittent spells of sunshine and brands displaying rainbow flags in a half-baked attempt to show support for Pride month. Now, there’s nothing wrong with championing inclusivity and showing solidarity. However, the generic ‘we support…’ caption or rainbow flag plastered on a shop front does little to address the political nature of Pride.
These feeble attempts only erase the importance of Pride month; they ignore the significance of the month of June to the LGBTQ+ community. The Stonewall Riots took place on 28th June 1969 as members of the gay community rallied against police. This was in response to a police raid at a Manhattan hotel, and they are widely considered the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement in the US.
If brands genuinely want to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, they need to commit to an all-year-round effort and ditch the decorative month of solidarity that serves a cynical brand purpose. A once a year campaign translates to nothing more than a cynical and opportunistic ploy; all-year-round support means that a brand lives and breathes inclusivity and diversity. By creating a safe environment that is as welcoming as it is diverse, not even the harshest critic will be able to accuse brands of jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.
So, what measures can brands take to prove their support for Pride is an inherent part of their culture and not mere opportunism?
Introduce gender neutral toilets
This might seem like a ‘scary’ idea but think of your toilet at home… that’s gender neutral. Far less scary now, isn’t it? Any employee resistance to the idea will seem a bit silly after putting it like that.
Train existing staff
Using the correct pronoun to address someone who is trans can go a long way to making them feel accepted and included at work. By implementing a culture of asking people which pronoun they prefer to be addressed by, you will avoid any confusion and it will become entirely natural.
Amend your company hiring process
While gender, race and ethnic diversity are visible, other kinds of diversity can go under the radar. Disregard unnecessary criteria from your hiring process and alter how you hire. If the traditional job advert on LinkedIn tends to yield the same sort of candidate, expand your recruitment and look further afield.
Take pride 24/7/365
Just as a dog isn’t only for Christmas, supporting the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t only be fashionable one month a year. Brands need to live and breathe this cause. They need to become a true ally.
Assign someone to monitor inclusivity and diversity
Just as you have someone to monitor HR matters and keep track of performance, you need someone dedicated to monitoring inclusivity and diversity. In doing so, you’ll make sure this is a deep-rooted part of your culture and not an after thought or quote fulfilling exercise.
Shout about your support of LGTBQ+ issues and collaborate with charitable organisations that make a difference. Silent support eleven months of the year followed by vocal support during Pride month doesn’t serve to benefit anyone.
Learn from mistakes previously made by brands
Primark launched a range with the charity Stonewall a couple of years ago whereby 20% of the proceeds would be donated to the charity. All sounds good, right? Yes, except the company had neglected to pay attention to where the clothes would be manufactured – China, Myanmar and Turkey to be exact – all countries with appalling LGBTQ+ rights records.
The LGBTQ+ community need better representation and support. They need authentic representation and support. So, before approving your annual campaign to ‘spread love’ and ‘show support’, ask yourself whether what you’re doing is enough.
How can brands best show their support for Pride? What necessary structures need to be in place to avoid accusations of only showing support for a brand purpose? Tweet us at @otbtweeter with your thoughts.