In a vibrant splash of colour, Pride Month has arrived. Pride is all about celebrating diversity and the kaleidoscope of differences that make people who they really are. It’s an ethos that everybody can get behind. If you own a small business and want to get involved, here’s the history of Pride and some simple ways to support the movement in your organisation.
Why is Pride Month important?
Every June, Pride Month celebrates the diversity of the world’s LGBTQI+ community. It’s a time when different voices are heard, the community’s culture is celebrated, and LGBTQI+ rights are championed.
The tradition began on the 28th of June 1969, when a small group of men resisted arrest during an NYPD raid on a New York gay bar, sparking the Stonewall Riots.
More than half a century later the world continues to celebrate Pride Month throughout June, reflecting on how far civil rights have come and reinforcing the need to take a stand against discrimination.
Pride Month is filled with glittering parades, flamboyant drag performances, electrifying live theater and gritty protests – it’s part party, part activism.
Did you know?
In 2015, the city of New York classified the Stonewall Inn as a protected historic landmark. A year later in 2016, Barack Obama lifted the inn’s status to national monument.
A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
The world becomes a more colourful place throughout Pride Month, with rainbows boldly splashed across billboards, shopfronts, websites, and social media accounts. The rainbow motif gives the LGBTQI+ community the visibility it has long lived without.
However, some companies really do believe there’s a pot of gold at the end of the Pride rainbow. In recent years, many businesses have been accused of cashing-in on the festivities through ‘rainbow washing’.
What is rainbow washing?
Rainbow washing involves using the rainbow motif on marketing material to capitalise on the positive associations of Pride without making any genuine effort to progress the LGBTQI+ movement.
For businesses exposed on social media for falsely promoting Pride Month, far from being a shortcut to easy profits, rainbow washing can severely damage the company’s reputation.
Why is Pride Month important for businesses?
For those businesses celebrating Pride Month with genuine intent, it’s an important time of year. The Pride movement is valuable in wider society because it celebrates our cultural differences, rather than using them to divide us. The same goes for the workplace. Embracing diversity and equality helps to create a unified, supportive environment for all your employees.
The business benefits of supporting Pride
As well as being ethical, having a diverse and inclusionary workplace is good for business performance. Research by the Australian Government has shown there is a direct relationship between greater workplace diversity and increased productivity. Some of the more specific benefits include:
Fostering inclusivity – By actively supporting Pride Month, you demonstrate your commitment to creating an inclusive workplace and a welcoming environment for your employees and customers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can contribute to higher employee morale and retention, increased customer loyalty, and a more positive brand image.
Attracting a diverse customer base – Celebrating Pride Month sends a powerful message to potential customers that your business is LGBTQI+ friendly. This can attract a more diverse customer base who appreciates businesses that align with their values. By embracing diversity, you create new opportunities for growth and expansion.
Building Employee Engagement and Loyalty: When your employees see that you actively support Pride Month, it can enhance their engagement and loyalty. By creating an inclusive workplace, you foster a sense of belonging and allow your employees to bring their authentic personalities to work. This leads to increased job satisfaction, more creativity, and a positive work culture.
What can businesses do to celebrate Pride Month?
For small businesses keen to avoid rainbow washing, the key to celebrating Pride Month is to do so with initiatives backed by genuine intent. For small companies with less financial resources, some simple initiatives include:
✔ Organise a fundraiser for an LGBTQI+ nonprofit – Align your business with an LGBTQI nonprofit and help to raise funds and awareness. Not only can this help externally, but it will make the LGBTQI+ community within your company feel valued.
✔ Run an LGBTQI social media campaign – If you have team members who are part of the community and open to telling their stories, feature them in your social media posts. Opening up your social channels to LGBTQI+ voices is a small but important gesture of support.
✔ Offer LGBTQI+ internships – Provide internships to qualified LGBTQI candidates, with a clear and stated purpose of welcoming fresh perspectives, creativity (and, of course, fabulousness!) into your business. Next, don’t be shy about promoting the opportunity.
✔ Find out what’s missing – Hold informal sessions where staff can openly discuss their diversity experiences within your company. Workplace discrimination stories are hard to hear and even harder to tell. Make sure the session is a safe space where employees can freely share their views. When you’ve established where there’s room for improvement, be prepared to make positive changes.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure your initiatives aren’t restricted to June. For your company to truly offer an inclusionary environment and equal opportunities, you’ll need to focus on diversity all year round.
Remember- the aim is to build diversity into your company’s core values, which takes time and long-term commitment.
Happy Pride Month! 🌈