09 June 2023
Make June more than just a logo change
As we sail into Pride month this year, we take another step closer to realising a level of equality between all people that only existed as a dream a few short decades ago.
Small businesses to global corporations will brandish themselves with the colours of the rainbow, or even fly the Progress Pride flag, to show that they are in tune with the sea change in thinking towards the LBGTQ+ community. And It’s becoming increasingly important to the consumer as they increasingly consider the ethics of the companies they choose to shop with.
But corporate confusion and fear of the topic of equality remains. Some corporations such as Nike charge ahead, promoting transgender models for their sportswear ranges, fully accepting that there will be some fallout from even broaching the narrative. Nike has made a conscious decision to stand up and keep the conversation at the forefront, important when there is still some indecision from the LBGTQ+ community on some of the more complex equality issues, such as those surrounding professional sports.
And then there are those companies that are seen to shrink back at this time of year. Why is that?
I think there are a few reasons for this and, no, I don’t think for a second it’s because these businesses, big or small, are somehow ‘phobic’ or stand for inequality.
It’s more about the simple realisation that a business, or the leaders within that business, worry about promoting something that they don’t understand. Just the same as a parent of a LBGTQ+ child might find it difficult to find the words to speak to them about it, even though they only have love and support for them. I guess businesses have the added pressure that if they are suspected of being insincere, could result in a lot of negativity for the brand they have built, and the livelihoods of their families and their employees.
This is something we can fix together.
Firstly, know that questions are always ok to ask, so long as you’re asking them because you genuinely want to understand equality, and you want to do your bit to make everyone feel included, loved and valued.
So then let’s tackle some of the more difficult questions:
“If we show our support for Pride, through our brand or, by sponsoring a Pride event, will we lose customers?”
It’s the most unspoken but often hinted at question I’ve ever come across, and the answer is I promise you, a resounding “No.”
Whilst the concern is absolutely valid, supporting equality, supporting Pride, does not alienate customers who may not be quite as far along on the journey as you. Not everyone has to be Nike to do their bit. It’s more than enough to quietly, but firmly, reassert your ethics to your employees and your customers, making clear that equality is part of your DNA, and that you take great pleasure in supporting everyone without judgement.
Indeed, showing that you believe in equality as part of your day-to-day operations, not just during one month of the year, is a much more positive way of thinking about Pride. If you communicate throughout the year that you’re an organisation that believes in equality as one of its core values, then celebrating that once a year feels like far less of a mountain to climb.
“But if we celebrate Pride through our brand and perhaps through sponsorship, won’t we be called out for ‘rainbow-washing’ when it’s all over and we go back to normal?”
Don’t feel bad for wondering about it, you won’t be the last. There’s now a flurry of memes that come out in July highlighting the rainbows being stripped off the corporate social channels and websites, as businesses get ‘back to normal.’ And understandably that’s not a good look for businesses either.
You see, you can absolutely celebrate Pride, because just that act itself is showing the world and, sometimes most importantly, your own people, that you care.
It’s your motivations that matter. Do it because it’s in your ethics, because you are aware and you are working towards progress, and you’ve nothing to fear. But take the opportunity to do more. Check over your HR policies and make sure your commitment to equality is real. Review your website ‘about us’ section and make sure your commitment to equality is shown there too.
You don’t need to drape everything in rainbows and talk about how much you love Queer Eye. Just let people know that you’ve thought about it. That you care. Not just in June, all year.
So where does this leave you?
Firstly, don’t be afraid. If you’ve got questions, Ask. Reach out, to me, to friends, to communities and groups that work in this field. We’re all in this together, and we’re all learning how to keep driving forward this complex and emotive area.
Then, take a step. Maybe it’s not about changing your branding this year, or sponsoring an event. Maybe it’s just a commitment to review your internal policies and make sure that they’re friendly to the LBGTQ+ community. After all, as July 1st hits and the rainbows fade, that’s the most important thing of all.