Special Guests: Zachary Murakami; Talent Acquisition Associate at Yotpo, Mia Bobak; Technology Partnership Manager at Gorgias, Fabrice Houdart; Board Member at Outright International, Jamie Leidelmeyer; Head of Sustainability at Hive Brands, and Kevin Burdick; Director of Community Investment at SRFC
Every year, Pride in June is not just a celebration of LGBTQ+ voices, culture, and experiences— it also creates visibility for under-represented groups and encourages us all to be our authentic selves. It represents an ongoing movement for equality and highlights issues the community still faces today.
In support of the LGBTQ+ movement, allies can be some of the most effective and powerful voices. To identify ways that brands can become good corporate allies during Pride Month and beyond, we sat down with a panel of industry leaders from Yotpo, Gorgias, Hive Brands, Sacramento Republic FC, and Outright International to discover how to create an authentic campaign, examples of brands who have successfully supported the LGBTQ+ community historically, and what it means to be a good corporate ally.
The Significance of Pride Month
Around the world, Pride Month activities take on many forms, from parades of celebration to protests for furthering the equal rights movement. While the Pride movement has grown exponentially in recent years, there is still work to be done.
A recent study reported that more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans faced discrimination of some kind since 2020, including more than 3 in 5 transgender Americans. Additionally, LGBTQ+ Americans have experienced significant mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pride Month is the perfect time to celebrate the rights that those before us have fought for, and a time to remember that we still have a long way to go. Whether organizationally or individually, Pride Month is significant for many in a variety of ways.
“Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, I grew up thinking that I would have to be in the closet my whole life. I think that this month is extremely important to remind yourself of why we’re here today.” - Zachary Murakami, Talent Acquisition Associate at Yotpo
- Yotpo prides themselves on being a people-first organization, meaning that everyone is welcomed as they are. Their employees are even encouraged to add their pronouns into their email signatures as a way to express to others how they want to be presented.
- At Gorgias, they believe in creating safe spaces and making voices heard. Mia shared that it’s so important to ensure that as an organization, you’re making your employees feel confident and empowered to share and use their voices.
- From the professional sports side, Pride Month is huge for Sacramento Republic FC and everything they stand for. No matter your race, your thoughts, or your feelings, the ball still rolls the same way. From the front office staff to the players, SRFC is focused on creating an inclusive environment throughout their entire organization.
The State of Corporate Social Impact
It’s no surprise that today’s socially conscious consumers are increasingly demanding that brands engage in corporate social responsibility. Especially for the younger generation of consumers like Millennials and Gen Z, they’re choosing to buy with their values and vote with their wallets.
In the past, brands and companies could distance themselves from societal issues and remain a neutral party, but consumers today are no longer tolerating the silence. With the power that corporations hold, 53% of consumers actually believe that brands can do more to solve societal problems than governments.
Furthermore, in the climate of cancel culture, consumers are not afraid to call out and cancel brands who either remain silent on important social issues or do something offensive. On the other hand, 73% of Americans say they are less likely to cancel a company if it is Purpose-driven.
“As a community, we really have to support one another and continue to challenge brands and companies to make these changes. We've seen how powerful applying pressure for social change can be.” - Mia Bobak, Technology Partnership Manager at Gorgias
As the country comes together to celebrate Pride Month every June, consumers are also looking at brands to do more than put out a Pride collection or include a rainbow in their logo for the month. With the political climate of legislative changes, consumers may be expecting even more from brands this year to stand by their values and be a voice of advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Power of Authenticity and the Consequences of Rainbow-Washing
Each year, more and more businesses join in on the Pride Month celebration and push out marketing campaigns surrounding the occasion. With the growing popularity of Pride campaigns, consumers are more weary of a brand’s efforts to determine whether they’re practicing good corporate allyship for the LGBTQ+ community, or if they’re simply capitalizing on the occasion.
If your brand is launching a Pride collection, think about how you can leverage your platform to be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Being an advocate could mean spreading information on how to support the community, volunteering your time to assist LGBTQ+ centers in your area, or even driving charitable donations to organizations that are spearheading change and support.
Pride 2022 Coalition
Retail brands join forces to support LGBTQ+ rights and equality through commerce fundraising.
Another great way to be authentic in your efforts is to support Pride initiatives year-round. While Pride Month brings the opportunity to highlight the adversities of the LGBTQ+ community to the forefront, the fight is ongoing and is not subject to just the month of June.
From a partnership perspective, you could team up with other LGBTQ+ owned brands and collaborate together. If for example, you’re wanting to create a special collection to sell for Pride Month, partner with LGBTQ+ designers and leverage your platform to uplift and highlight others who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to show your support.
“It's also important to not go into a conversation with the expectation of, ‘We need a partner, so let's just partner with somebody’. Okay, in service of what? What is your goal? What are you trying to do?” - Jamie Leidelmeyer, Head of Sustainability at Hive Brands
- If brands want to get involved in Pride Month, it’s not enough to stick a rainbow on their best selling products. Taking action to elevate LGBTQ+ voices and giving them a platform to shine is a huge differentiating factor in being authentic in your efforts and getting involved just because you think you need to.
- From top to bottom, brands need to be fully committed to a cause, if they are choosing to capitalize on it. “I think it's great that consumers are becoming more aware of the companies who aren’t authentically committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. And I hope more consumers continue to call out these businesses on social media because they’re saying one thing but then walking the other way.” Kevin Burdick, SRFC
- Brands can also show authentic support by finding causes that align with their company. If for example, a company is located in Texas, then supporting organizations that are fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in Texas would be a naturally good fit.
What Brands Can Be Doing To Enact Change
Actions speak louder than words, which is why Hive Brands has built social impact into the DNA of their brand. Jamie shared that in supporting Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to remember that “LGBTQ+” is but one identifier of a person and that to have a successful DEI initiative, a company should think about it as one piece of a whole.
“There’s not just gay people, trans people, people of color, etc. There’s a lot of overlap and when we think about campaigns and messaging and how we’re talking about it from an inclusivity perspective, it’s really important to remember that there’s a lot of layers to a person.” - Jamie Leidelmeyer, Head of Sustainability at Hive Brands
- Sacramento Republic FC’s office is located across the street from their LGBTQ+ community center where they provide 24/7 services. When they first moved into their office, SRFC immediately created a relationship with the community center and implemented initiatives to support the LGBTQ+ community into their staff training.
- Yotpo offers their employees volunteer time and encourages them to get involved in supporting the communities around them.
- Fabrice shared that it’s important for brands to support causes that correlate with their values. In supporting Pride Month, it comes across as inauthentic if a brand is not actively setting ways to advocate for the community.
Examples of Good Corporate Allyship
The best examples of brands who are successfully supporting Pride Month are those that actively include D&I initiatives throughout their company. Our panelists shared some of their favorite examples of good corporate allyship:
- Proctor and Gamble’s Can’t Cancel Pride campaign was started to create visibility and raise funds for diverse LGBTQ+ communities impacted by COVID-19. The proceeds of the campaign supported six nonprofit organizations— GLAAD, SAGE, The National Black Justice Coalition, The Trevor Project, CenterLink, and Outright International.
- H&M shines light on the LGBTQ+ community through the models they represent and are continually making strides towards diversity and inclusion. Additionally, they created a unisex Pride collection that supported the The United Nation’s Free & Equal campaign by donating 10% of all proceeds.
- Playing For Pride is a program that was started to bring together athletes, teams and leagues to support Athlete Ally, an organization that is making sports inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community. The program was started by a North Carolina soccer player who decided to donate a dollar for every minute that he played during the month of June to support the LGBTQ+ community. Playing for Pride has since grown into a nationwide campaign.
To close out the conversation, our panelists shared some tips for brands who are interested in supporting the LGBTQ+ community for Pride Month:
- “Don't be afraid to do things outside of the month of June.” - Kevin Burdick, SRFC
- “Do your research. There's a ton of resources out there, so use them.” - Mia Bobak, Gorgias
- “Remember that our fight is far from over, and you're contributing to an important fight.” - Fabrice Houdart, Outright International
If you’re looking for a quick and impactful way to get involved in supporting the LGBTQ+ community for Pride Month, you can join our Pride 2022 Coalition, supporting Outright Action International, It Gets Better Project, and Trans Lifeline! You can learn more about this coalition and how you can get involved here.