by Matt Landers & Eli Coffin, GSBA
| Jun 20, 2019
June is upon us and the world is awash in rainbow flags, swag, and merch. The yearly debates about the corporatization of Pride versus wider celebration and acceptance of the community are back in full swing. We love seeing all parts of our society – including businesses small and large – celebrating their employees and the LGBTQ community at large. But for that support to be meaningful, there has to be more than just a rainbow decal and a contingent in the major Pride parades.
Improve Spaces for LGBTQ Customers & Employees
Pride is about embracing people as their full selves, and this is a relevant idea for more than just LGBTQ people. Provide the space – mentally and physically – for people to identify themselves outside of categories that you might be familiar with. Before marching in a parade, check your internal policies. Are your processes and facilities set up for all genders and for nonbinary people? Does your workplace allow for employees to designate their pronouns and do you have clear policies for how to respect their use? Does your healthcare policy fully include the needs of transgender people? To be meaningful, businesses must do more than talk about inclusion, but instead do the work to support their employees and their complete identities.
Amplify Support for the LGBTQ Community
Once June 30 has passed, how are you continuing your support for the other eleven
months of the year? Find a cause that is important to you and your employees – Washington has more than 200 nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community. There is definitely one that supports whichever angle of the community you are most passionate about, and we guarantee that they would love to build a stronger relationship over the rest of the year. What is your workplace doing to elevate the voices of the community itself beyond just a rainbow sticker?
Refine Your Message
Take a look at your marketing materials and see if they reflect the groups you currently serve and the groups you want to serve. If your LGBTQ marketing consists solely of one image of shirtless muscular cisgender men, you aren't going to be very successful in speaking to the wider community. Does your work avoid practices that make certain groups feel unwelcome or unable to access your spaces?
LGBTQ consumers (and their many allies!) are incredibly loyal when a company is authentic and reflects them in its images – and conversely they can tell when a campaign just uses generic images and only engages with the community on a superficial basis.
GSBA wishes everyone a very happy Pride Month. Take the time to celebrate the community and be with one another. Go to Pride events and be visible. Demand the rights that we are still denied in too many spaces around the country and world. Be open to learning about other people, in whatever form that may be. Come July 1, take the lessons of Pride and apply them to your everyday life for the rest of the year. Your community and your customers will thank you.