Both Sides of Corporate Pride
Tying Pride Marketing to Meaningful Action
by Kathleen C. Gamble
As we progress through PRIDE 2021, it is amazing to witness how many organizations are stepping up to the plate in support of the LGBTQ community. Each day of this month I have seen meaningful marketing efforts with messages that express genuine support for a group that continues to struggle finding inclusion, equity and justice.
Nordstrom Rack (a website I frequent) prominently displays a banner on their website promoting their commitment to equality and support of PRIDE month. With one click, you are taken to another page where they lay bare the work they have done internally to create "a place where every customer and employee is welcome, respected, appreciated and able to be themselves." In addition to Nordstrom's philanthropic efforts to support homeless LGBTQ+ and the Trans community, in 2020 they created their first gender-inclusive clothing line, Be Proud by BP.
LEGO has been a mainstay in family homes for decades. In 2021 they released their new Everyone is Awesome set. The LGBTQ-themed set comes with 11 monochromatic figures, each with an assigned color and 346 pieces creating a rainbow cascade.
Even Disney is moving with the moment. They've released their Rainbow Disney 2021 Collection and have begun donating to LGBTQ organizations around the world including ARELAS in Spain, Famiglie Arcobaleno in Italy, Nijiiro Diversity in Japan and GLSEN in the US.
The list continues with Skittles ditching their traditional colors for their much-celebrated Pride Packs, Ugg's Pride Rainbow Disco Stripe Slide, Mattel's UNO Play with Pride Edition, PetSmart's Pride Pink "Pride" Pet Dress, T.G.I. Fridays new Carlo's Bakery Rainbow Cake and many more.
The larger Fortune 500 companies have vastly improved their inclusion policies over the years:
While we celebrate the great strides made in building a more inclusive society, one that allows LGBTQ individuals to feel safe and valued, one where they can live life freely expressing who they are, there are still significant roadblocks. Twenty-six states do not provide explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law. (The National LGBTQ Workers Center)
The 2020 State of the LGBTQ Community, published by the Center for American Progress, shows that many LGBTQ people continue to face discrimination in their personal lives, in the workplace, in society overall, and in their access to critical healthcare. A few of the major findings from the survey include:
Results from The Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) A Workplace Divided study, found that 46% of LGBTQ individuals are still closeted/cover at work. Additionally, 50% of non-LGBTQ workers reported that there are no employees at their company who are open about being LGBTQ. Individuals continue to stay closeted to avoid being stereotyped, losing connections or relationships with coworkers, making others feel uncomfortable and a fear of others believing they will be sexually attracted to them just because they're LGBTQ.
It is critical that we understand the impact of discrimination, conscious and unconscious biases, and exclusive behaviors on LGBTQ individuals and how it manifests within all organizations. When people cover, they leave a big part of themselves behind, which requires constant effort that ultimately leads to fear and exhaustion.
We believe that belonging sits at the intersection of feeling included and being engaged. Underlying inclusion and engagement is the ability to feel psychologically safe.
Do I feel included in conversation, problem-solving, planning and purpose?
When individuals answer "yes" to all these questions, that's when the magic of belonging occurs.
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