Many brands and businesses incorporate the colors of the rainbow into their marketing and advertising in June. It’s fun, it’s positive, and it shows support for the LGBTQ+ community, right?
Well, it appears that way on the surface. However, on a deeper level, there is a big difference between support and brand intention.
Pride Month is about amplifying LGBTQ+ voices, continuing the fight for acceptance, celebrating the community, and remembering the June 1969 Stonewall Riots. Unfortunately, some brands and businesses completely miss the mark when it comes to Pride Month marketing by focusing on brand benefit. This can cause adverse effects to people who hold this month and the meaning of Pride so close to their hearts.
Instead of outwardly showing “support,” businesses should exemplify support and acceptance by internally evaluating their policies and standards concerning gender and sexuality equality as well as making sure to practice inclusivity and diversity on a year-round basis, not just 30 days out of the year. It is crucial to continue the conversation on what equality looks like in corporate culture and strive to amplify LGBTQ+ voices regularly. That should be the brand intention.
The good thing is that there are plenty of ways for businesses to do that.
Heidi Kurter, senior contributor at Forbes, wrote in Here Are 4 Ways Companies Can Make Workplaces More LGBTQ Inclusive, that only one in three employers have Diversity and Inclusion Teams in place as well as related policies or initiatives, according to a 2020 Workforce Report from The Guardian. Resources such as these are imperative items businesses should have in place to support gender and sexuality equality. Specific steps that businesses can take along this line are ensuring inclusive benefits, training on inclusivity in language, and hiring an inclusivity specialist, says Kurter.
If brands are running campaigns relating to Pride Month, they should first ask the question, “Is my campaign truly benefiting the queer community?” The answer would probably be no for many.
So, what does it look like to practice genuine Pride Month marketing?
“Doing the LGBTQ community justice through advertising requires a yearlong commitment,” Alex Hepburn wrote in Pride Month Marketing: Where Brands Go Wrong. “Moreover, it involves making long-term investments in hiring queer talent to oversee marketing initiatives pointed directly at their community.”
Hepburn adds that monetization from Pride Month marketing should directly affect positive change for the community.
Finally, authenticity is the best policy. Tell stories that are real and related to your company or business. Amplify LGBTQ+ voices within your business and celebrate those individuals. Continue those stories and conversations surrounding equality in the workplace beyond the month of June. Also, practice inclusive language and supporting communication in your news and media.
Pride is a lifelong celebration for LGBTQ+ individuals, it does not have a time limit. Practicing allyship means taking these important steps internally, externally, and every day.