Since last week, you may have noticed a flurry of rainbow flags around you, on your way to and from work, on social media platforms, and in all kinds of marketing and communications campaigns. LGBT+ Pride month, also shortened to Pride month, is in full swing in many countries around the world. It celebrates the diversity and inclusion of individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual and gender minority identities.
Pride celebrations have been taking place every June for over fifty years. They first started as a commemoration of the Stonewall riots of June 1969 in New York City, which marked the start of the fight for LGBT+ rights worldwide. Today, Pride month is characterised by a dynamic cadence of gay pride parades, political demonstrations, and cultural events across all of June. And while you may be picturing the more carnavalesque aspect of Pride celebrations - particularly after the hiatus of the past two pandemic years - its political and social dimension is evermore significant.
For organisations and companies interested in developing their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies, addressing the specific LGBT+ demographic is a must, and not only as a sign of support to the community. LGBT+ issues cross many other social questions relevant to the umbrella of ESG communications, particularly those relating to marginalised groups (ethnic or religious minorities, people with disabilities, the homeless population, among others). On top of this, studies have shown that LGBT+ individuals are more politically and socially active than the heterosexual/cisgender population, including in the environmental activist movement. And if you still feel unconvinced, recent data has shown that openly LGBT-friendly businesses and companies tend to do better financially. It’s a win-win for everyone.
First, it is important to define whether you are aiming to become a social impact tech firm – that is, a tech organisation whose main focus is your social impact and making the world a better place – or whether Now that you’ve understood the stakes and challenges, how can you as an organisation address the LGBT+ demographic?
Firstly, it is important to take measures to foster an inclusive and respectful workplace culture. In any social justice campaign, integrity is key. So before you jump straight into a communications campaign, ask yourself, how do my LGBT+ colleagues and staff experience the workplace? Do they feel included? Supported? Represented? If you find that you don’t know the answer to these, try to assess your current work environment, review your People and Planet policy, and consider what could be improved in practice.
To help you achieve this and any ensuing projects, consult your own staff. You might already have considered associating with an external body to work on a special project ahead of Pride month. But don’t forget that your own staff is your biggest resource. Whether they identify as LGBT+ or not, they might already have some insight on what could be done within the workplace and as part of your marketing strategy. And as they intimately know your organisation’s structure, its core values, and the branding it has developed over time, they are in the best position to help you. Transport for London’s 2021 Pride campaign focused precisely on sharing the stories and portraits of its own LGBT+ staff, making a powerful statement of inclusivity.
Additionally, consider investing in and partnering with organisations and networks promoting LGBT+ rights awareness. As part of your communications strategy, look into sponsorship projects with LGBT+ not-for-profits - such as Stonewall UK, Inclusive Employers, and Workplace Pride - to showcase to consumers the values and social impact that your organisation embodies. And beyond a simple brand association, they can provide you with resources and services, including awareness workshops and communications advice from diversity experts, to help you achieve your workplace equality objectives.
On a similar vein, if you believe your organisation lacks diversity, you can look into positive action employment and promotion schemes, where your country’s legislation allows. Participating in and implementing programs that support the employment of LGBT+ individuals is a way of directly tackling inequalities in the professional sphere. Also, ensuring the diversity and representativity of your organisation would help you on your way to achieving your brand goals of inclusion, a crucial aspect of the big S in your ESG strategy development.
Although LGBT+ Pride month is now mainly known for its celebratory, bold, and theatrical spirit, much can be done and implemented at the corporate level to ensure that your People and Planet policies truly tackle the challenges of this important demographic. Nevertheless, LGBT+ pride parades carry a truth about social justice that would be good for people in any domain to channel: that pleasure, positivity, and pride, go a long way in helping society flourish and fight inequalities.