During Pride Month, it's common to see retailers and brands replace their logo with a rainbow overlay, sell limited-edition Pride products and scatter their social feeds with rainbow icons, but this support shouldn't stop after June. We spoke to a series of e-commerce and marketing experts, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community to better understand how retailers can be a good ally, even after Pride Month.
The Buying Power of Pride Month
According to Forbes, in 2019, shoppers in the LGBQTIA+ community have a combined spending power of $3.7 trillion, often referred to as ‘pink money’. A 1998 article from the BBC estimated that upwards of 90 percent of LGBTQIA+ members support brands that support the community and would ditch a brand that doesn’t support them in return. According to MarketingMag in 2017, almost 70 percent of the community “admit to being positively influenced by ads that contain gay and lesbian imagery, and say that they would most likely buy these products.”
Openly supporting Pride Month isn’t just great for the community, but it’s great for businesses too. Power Retail has repeatedly showcased how important it is for retailers to have transparent and open communication with their shoppers to establish trust and loyalty. The same goes for the LGBTQIA+ community.
But it goes beyond just adding a rainbow overlay to your LinkedIn or adding a flag on your Instagram feed. Here is how you can support your LGBQTIA+ shoppers every day of the year, not just in June.
1. Include LGBTQIA+ Members in the Decision Making
Before adding a rainbow flag to a product or logo, businesses need to include community members in the decision making. As Cory Schroder, the Content Marketing Manager at Latana, explains. At the same time, a business may be a firm supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community, but they need to make a ‘long-lasting commitment’ to support the community. “Before you release your limited-edition rainbow phone covers or beer koozies, make sure you’ve included an LGBTQ+ person in the ideation, planning, and execution processes,” he tells Power Retail.
“Don’t wait until you’ve put together an entire concept before getting input and ideas from an LGBTQ+ colleague or advisor — include them from the very beginning,” he says. “Not only will you avoid making mistakes early on, but you’ll also be able to create a more authentic, meaningful campaign. And if you don’t have any openly LGBTQ+ colleagues who are willing or able to assist, it’s your responsibility to hire an outside advisor. Also — side note— if you truly don’t have any LGBTQ+ colleagues, you should probably consider rethinking your hiring processes and company culture.”
2. Encourage a Diverse Workplace
Even after Pride Month has ended, businesses should invite and encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace every day of the year. “Engage and empower your leaders to take ownership of diversity and inclusion. When it comes to encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace, leaders can’t just ‘talk the talk’; they also need to ‘walk the walk’,” says Ross Wetherbee, the Diversity and Inclusions Manager at TAL.
“Fostering diversity and inclusion starts at the top, and business leaders have a critical role to play in bringing diversity and inclusion to life. A real marker of success is seeing leaders and the broader business taking ownership of inclusion and diversity. Inclusion makes diversity meaningful, and business leaders need to capitalise on the strength of the differences among their employees. People are more innovative and productive when they are given a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment to work in, and this also helps foster a sense of belonging and connectedness among teams.”
3. Support Local LGBTQIA+ in Other Ways
It’s not just about adding a rainbow flag to your LinkedIn profile. While showing your support for the community during Pride Month is fantastic, if a business avoids supporting the community in July, the message is lost. Businesses can support organisations such as National LGBTI Health Alliance, ANTRA, Black Rainbow and Trans Pride Australia to continue supporting the community, even after Pride Month.
“Pride month is an interesting time of year. On the one hand, it is absolutely incredible that so many brands want to be part of such an important conversation, celebrating and giving visibility to the LGBTQI community and empowering people to be their true selves,” shares Sarah Gross, the Co-Founder of Storyfolk and member of the LGBTQIA+ community. “However, like ‘Greenwashing’, where brands try to position themselves as more sustainable than they are, many brands, especially retailers, do this with pride month. So let’s call it ‘Rainbow washing.’ But, on the other hand, I think this is important to remember that small action is still better than no action, and we shouldn’t villainise brands trying but don’t understand how to connect with the community.”
What is her advice for businesses that wish to show their support for the community even after Pride Month? “Show up for the LGBTQIA+ in other months, too,” she says. “Pride month is a great idea, but there are 11 other months to show that you care about the LGBTQIA+ community.”
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