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Pride Month is a time for celebration and reflection as we recognize the contributions and achievements of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride Month can also be a potential minefield for organizations as they craft messages to support the LGBTQIA+ community without taking advantage of the celebration for their own gains.
A thoughtful Pride campaign involves a lot more than a brightly colored logo. Whether you are a part of the community or consider yourself or your business an ally, an understanding of the history of Pride and its purpose is valuable for anyone planning a campaign around the occasion. Brands that prioritize profit or optics over activism and allyship are criticized for rainbow washing or performative allyship to gain social capital. Pride event organizers and charity organizations also take note of brands who are just looking for social capital, so it’s even more important for businesses to put action behind their words.
Let’s take a look at five things your brand should and shouldn’t do to celebrate Pride Month.
Yes, the Pride flag is arguably the most recognizable symbol of Pride Month; however, just displaying a rainbow logo doesn’t necessarily make you an ally. If you’re looking to show your support in more thoughtful ways, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Promote queer and trans content creators, customers, and users of your product or business
Donate to LGBTQIA+ charities and nonprofits
Readily promote your diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) policies on your company’s website
Permanently incorporate equality into your brand messaging and public platforms
To make an impactful statement that exhibits allyship all year long, consider taking the Safe Spaces Alliance Pledge and displaying their “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE” decal on the front door of your business.
Saying your company supports Pride Month and the LGBTQIA+ community is one thing. Actually doing it is another. Your brand’s Pride Month messaging should include information about the tangible things you are regularly doing to support the community.
One of the simplest ways to do this is by sharing information about your involvement in or donations to LGBTQIA+ charities and organizations on your website or social media platforms. Bring attention to organizations and their missions while also showing your audience that there is action behind your words. Alternately, sharing content from these charities and organizations on your own platforms amplifies their message without hijacking it.
In addition to volunteering and donating, evaluating and amending your policies to foster an inclusive and safe work environment for LGBTQIA+ employees is an important part of any Pride-centric messaging. Get to know the challenges current and potential employees face and how you can accommodate them, and that messaging into your website and social media.
There are more creative ways to celebrate Pride Month in the workplace than employee spotlights. Although this idea may be rooted in good intentions, it can often be perceived as tokenizing members of marginalized communities. If you want to feature your employees, first, make sure you have their permission; second, make sure the context you put them in is authentic to their own experiences. And always remember — some employees may not publicly disclose their sexual orientation to everyone. Approximately 40% of LGBTQIA+ employees are not out at work, and 54% of employees who are out at work remain closeted to their clients or customers.
Find other ways to encourage individuals to support Pride Month. If your workdays are still filled with Zoom calls and video chats, you can always update your virtual background to show your support remotely. Or suggest employees add their pronouns to their email signatures or instant messaging profiles to foster inclusive environments and open conversations.
Additionally, take this opportune time to encourage employee engagement through education and inclusivity training or hosting a Lunch and Learn that focuses on important topics in the LGBTQIA+ community — and even shows employees how they can get involved.
You’ve probably encountered your fair share of attempts by brands to celebrate Pride with limited release products — think rainbow-hued mouthwash and greyscale candy. These marketing tactics reveal a lack of understanding of what Pride Month is really about as brands chase clout and viral moments over awareness of the challenges the community faces.
Brands should focus on messaging that highlights the LGBTQIA+ community — rather than products and services — unless they are directly related to the cause. For instance, our 2021 Pride Month campaign centered around iconic figures in LGBTQIA+ history that we shared across social media with unique illustrations and captions geared toward education and awareness.
Pride Month is a great way to show support for the LGBTQIA+ community, however, it’s important to make sure your efforts are genuine. If you choose to display the Pride flag or take part in the month’s festivities, your support shouldn’t stop there. A firm commitment to DEIA practices is essential to creating and maintaining safe spaces for every employee. Make sure your values and policies are easily accessible year-round. This can also include tracking your progression toward your commitments. For inspiration, check out the Newfields Together page. This was a collaborative effort between our team and Newfields to ensure their DEIA pledge (and the actionable steps they’re taking) had a permanent place on their website.
As you approach Pride Month 2022, take time to think about how you can support the LGBTQIA+ community — not just in June, but all 12 months of the year. Your charitable efforts, DEIA education and training, and other dedicated actions for inclusivity should make it clear that everyone who does business with you, from staff to clients, should feel safe to show up as their authentic selves.