When I see that a business supports Pride, I get a mixture of thoughts. Curiosity, relief, pride and perhaps also a feeling of security, that I am about to step into a culture where, at least in part, the employees are likely to respect each other and appreciate diversity. It’s also my experience that companies that acknowledge and value the fact that people are different always seem to have the most interesting people and the most surprising, delightful, exciting work underway.
But, let’s face it, supporting Pride is complicated, vague, and controversial. With the significant steps made in terms of the AIDS epidemic and Gay marriage more or less allowed, you might be forgiven for thinking that it is perhaps not as important this year. For businesses operating across multiple territories where cultural norms and laws may vary, advocacy does require thought and planning—but supporting Pride matters, not just to the LGBTQ+ individuals within a businesses’ eco-system, but well beyond. Issues of inequality persist, both on a global and local scale.
Here are some steps that can make it easier to avoid the hazards and help your company reap some of the benefits of supporting Pride month:
- Get your employees involved. Before planning your corporate Pride initiatives, it’s wise to solicit input from a wide range of employees. Putting together a committee of employee volunteers to serve as a sounding board and provide input as your plans begin to take shape can build bridges and foster collaborations across the business. In addition, it will demonstrate your commitment to listening to and implementing employee feedback. Finally, it will help facilitate a sense of support and community within your company and help prevent you from making mistakes that may ultimately alienate and frustrate members of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Don’t make it about profit. Don’t try to monetise your association with Pride month. And it needs to be more than just a superficial rainbow on the social media pages and an inflatable unicorn in the office. The aim should be to create an organisation that is safe, fair, and allows individuals to thrive all year round. Regardless of where they do or don’t fit within the LGBTQ+ initialism.
- Support needs to be consistent and run beyond June. Victoria’s Secret recently came under fire when the CEO stated that he would never hire transgender models, a month before the company covered its social media with rainbows. Twitter didn’t like that.
- Prioritise your own activities before lending support to third parties. Are your policies and employment contracts equitable, for example? Steps to consider include:
- Diversity and inclusion training to create a safe and friendly environment for all employees.
- A clear mission that emphasises fair treatment and open support of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Equal benefits for all employees regardless of their sexual orientation— including time off for adoption leave, maternity/paternity leave, health benefits, and pay.
- A social responsibility program to help organise and take steps to demonstrate clear support for the LGBTQ+ community.
- An anti-discrimination policy with clear and enforceable consequences for those who don’t comply.
Pride Month has many different meanings, ranging from celebration and reflection to progress, and forward movement. Supporting Pride month is an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion all year long. This speaks to more than those individuals who directly identify with the LGBTQ+ community but to all employees, partners, and customers and sends out a clear signal that “real people work here”.
At Champion this year, we are celebrating Pride month by donating to a range of charities chosen by the team. These include Stonewall, Switchboard LGBT Helpline, Mermaids, and The Elton John Aids Foundation.
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