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3 New Ways
companies can
support Pride Month

in 2023

James Kearslake
James Kearslake

Small business owner,
writer, trans, mental
health advocate

Table of Contents

Organisations have made a rainbow from their logo.

They’ve observed Pride Month with rainbow cake.

They launched the new #Pride email signature.

We’ve had the posts celebrating their gay AF employees.

And it’s all become a little samey, hasn’t it?

At the same time, AB Inbev lost $27 billion from their market value following their advertising campaign with Dylan Mulvaney, resulting in one of their worst months ever recorded for their share price.

Target removed their Pride merchandise following the galvanising of right-wing, US trolls going on the attack. For the Brits, that’s the equivalent of the English Defence League influencing Primark to turn their back on us during Pride season

All the while, we moan companies are profiteering from Pride Month, forcing decision makers to reassess their long-standing support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Nobody wants to offend us, do they? 

So instead, nobody does anything.

And so, 2023 is The Year of Inaction. It can be more damaging to take the wrong step, than no step at all, so companies stay still, paralysed with fear.

This article is to empower companies to move from their paralysis, by three suggested ways to celebrate Pride Month which honours LGBTQ+ people authentically, while protecting brand value.

The Stonewall Riots 28 June 1969 What is Pride Month Why companies need to celebrate Pride Month 2023 LGBTQ Wellness
The Stonewall Riots | 28 June 1969 | it's thought this is the only photo captured from the night | Source: Wikipedia 2023

First companies need to understand what Pride Month is, and the three reasons companies should celebrate Pride Month.

What is Pride Month?

To understand how companies celebrate Pride Month for LGBTQ+ people, it’s important to first understand the origins of Pride Month.

Set to the backdrop of anti-gay laws and hate crimes in New York in the 60’s, LGBTQ+ people were growing tired of being denigrated, vilified, and violently attacked.

On 28 June 1969, the New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, the now world-renowned gay pub in Greenwich Village, New York. Tired of being targeted by the police, the community fought back, and so began the five days of The Stonewall Riots.

The Stonewall Riots are our line in the sand; the moment we started to make change. 

Pride Month is an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to remember the many lives before us lost to murder, suicide, AIDS, imprisonment, abuse, isolation.

It is also an opportunity to honour how far we’ve come, and continue fighting for the equality LGBTQ+ people deserve. We are still not seen as equal humans, whether people want to hear it or not.

It’s therefore so important that organisations feel confident celebrating Pride Month, but now is the time to consider how they can observer Pride Month more authentically, than seeing it a as profiteering mechanism for the bottom line.

3 reasons companies should celebrate Pride Month

With companies’ inaction this year, D&I employees have told me it’s the C-suite’s question of the month;

Why do we need to celebrate Pride Month?

It saddens me in 2023 companies haven’t understood why they’ve ever celebrated Pride Month. The question tells me it was their tick box exercise, or hope of an improved profit from the pink pound. Values at an estimated £70B per annum, I can understand why companies see the potential profiteering.

In 2023, this is why companies need to continue celebrating Pride Month:

1. The commercial value

Profiteering or not, the Pink Pound is a valuable income to any organisation.

But companies are getting it wrong because their intention is wrong.

Dylan Mulvaney has a combined social media following of approximately 12M followers,  and as a trans woman her market is clear.

When AB Inbev attempted to use Dylan’s social media following for their advertising campaign it experience severe backlash because they were click-baiting. We see it time an time again – the idea that organisations want to benefit from the speed at which trans based content floods social media feeds. But if you don’t understand the realities of life for transgender and non-binary people, your social media campaign is going to be ill-thought out. AB Inbev don’t care about trans rights, they just wanted clickbait – their campaign failed as a result.

However, when organisations create a culture in which LGBTQ+ lives are truly accepted and celebrated in the workplace, it gives them a better understanding of the difficulties LGBTQ+ people face. We stopped being seen as clickbait, and instead are seen as equal humans.

Organisations that take a softer approach to Pride Month, creating campaigns that honour LGBTQ+ lives. than use them as clickbait, strike a more balanced campaign that lands well with the masses.

Nike LGBTQ+ Campaign | Why companies need to celebrate Pride Month 2023 | 3 New Ways companies can support Pride Month | LGBTQ Wellness
Can you see which of Nike's post is honouring Pride Month? ✨ Us either. Keep it simple

As LGBTQ+ people, parading us in front of right-wing, US trolls, simply for clickbait, doesn’t serve our progress. Neither will it serve your bottom line.

Honour us authentically, and you will acquire new customers, while helping influence existing customers still locked in archaic thought patterns.

2. Diverse recruitment

There is a reason Goldman Sachs has one of the most diverse workforce I’ve ever seen.

For one of the US’ most successful banks, racial diversity isn’t something you would expect.

But Goldman Sachs understands the financial value in diversity of thought. 

Stick a bunch of white, middle class men at the same table and their thoughts will likely follow similar patterns.

Combine a mix of races, cultures, genders, and sexual identities, and you’ve created an environment where new ideas can address some of the biggest challenges.

Observing Pride Month signals to prospective employees you’re a safe space to work, and trust me it works. Put the same job spec out under two organisations, and most us will always apply to the company who publicly honours their LGBTQ+ employees.

3. Employee satisfaction

Just as with diverse recruitment you’re attracting top talent, so you should want to retain it. 

Do no underestimate the need to reinforce your organisation’s stance on inclusivity year after year. 

Cultures can so easily change if we become complacent; observance periods act as reminders to take small actions that celebrate the full breadth of our workforce.

After all, if it costs an average of £30,000 to replace an employee, why would we not invest a small percentage in initiatives that make our employees feel safe.

on average, it costs £30,000 to replace a well trained employee

3 new ways companies can support Pride Month in 2023

And so, in The Year of Inaction we find companies searching for new ways to support Pride Month that doesn’t result in a social media backlash, put them on the receiving end of LGBTQ+ people claiming queer profiteering, or end up embroiled in the right, US troll-led Tik Tok campaigns that are systematically bringing down share prices of the S&P 500.

If you want to support Pride Month successfully, 2023 is The Year of Change.

Here are three ways your company can support Pride Month authentically, while retaining brand value.

1. Ask your LGBTQ+ employees how they want the company to celebrate

Shocking advice isn’t it, engaging with your LGBTQ+ employees to understand what they want? Yet it’s so often overlooked – straight, white D&I staff making decisions for marginalised staff.

The best form of inclusion is including people.

Bring them on the journey with you.

This signals to your staff you have a genuine care for their needs in the workplace, while opening a door for you to learn directly from LGBTQ+ people.

It is authenticity at it’s finest.

2. Make a Pride Pledge to not celebrate Pride

Stay with me here.

Pride isn’t a one month celebration.

We aren’t gay 30 days of the year.

Pride is celebrating your LGBTQ+ employees 365 days of the year.

Make a Pride Pledge acknowledging that Pride month doesn’t change the dial, so you commit to supporting LGBTQ+ employees all year round. You could:

  • commit to using an LGBTQ+ freelancer each quarter
  • commit to LGBTQ+ awareness training twice this year
  • provide your LGBTQ+ forum with a wellbeing day late in the year

Your possibilities are endless. Just commit to LGBTQ+ care outside of Pride Month.

3. Commit to improving LGBTQ+ employee satisfaction by Pride Month next year

What a beautiful initiative.

Instead of baking rainbow cake, invest in initiatives for your employee’s happiness.

You would need to capture initial data, but it’s more than possible to deliver in twelve months.

And so you see, for most organisations Pride Month isn’t about bold social media statements, using transfluencers for clickbait, or monopolising on the influx of Pride merch bought solely for Pride season.

Pride Month is about honouring the humans you have in your organisation, who experience real emotion, feelings, and prioritising their comfort and wellbeing within the workplace. 

And caring for them all year round.

That’s how I want to see companies supporting Pride Month in 2023.

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