Since the outbreak of COVID-19, engaging with causes that are important to us has looked a little bit different. There are fewer in-person events than before, so we’ve all had to get creative and figure out how to support from a distance.
This year, we realize that our observance of Pride Month will look different. Many Pride celebrations have been canceled, rescheduled, or moved to virtual settings. While many of us may picture Pride celebrations as large gatherings and parades, there is so much more at play when a business is an ally and supporter of Pride. So let’s explore some other ways your company can observe Pride Month in a socially distant world.
While your business is thinking about how it can adjust its support of Pride Month, take the time to think about how your company supports LGBTQ+ employees every day. Review your employee handbook and signage. Is the language gendered to the point that it could make a transgender employee uncomfortable? Do your health benefit policies exclude same-sex partners? Perhaps it’s time to update information, policies, and behaviors so they’re ready for the year ahead. Don’t let your Pride flag fly only in June!
During Pride Month in recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of companies “rainbow washing,” or adding rainbow colors and images to their marketing materials without necessarily taking concrete steps toward advancing LGBTQ+ causes. It can come across as pandering.
The past few years, Influence & Co. has changed its logos on social media to reflect the LGBTQ+ flag. But we’ve been intentional about regularly discussing our policies and values to ensure that we’re not falling into that pandering zone. After the first year of changing our logo, an employee, who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, approached our HR director and let her know how much it meant to him. He had never worked for an organization that was so outwardly supportive. This is why these small gestures matter.
Just make sure your organization’s mission and values reflect your support all the time.
Global Pride, hosted by InterPride, will be a virtual event this year. Add this event to your calendar on June 27 and encourage employees to participate. Also keep an eye on your local festivals, and if they’re being rescheduled for later in the year, make it a point to promote them at that time, too.
One of the most important things your organization can do to support Pride this year is to put your money where your mouth is. Organizations such as The Trevor Project are working overtime to help young members of the LGBTQ+ community who are struggling during the current crisis. The Trevor Project’s mission means a lot to some of our employees, and we have made donations on Influence & Co.’s behalf. You can find many organizations — large and small, global and local — that serve this community and will graciously accept your donation.
If your city or state has begun to reopen after social distancing restrictions, think about the LGTBQ+ business owners in your community and find ways to support them. Is there a local restaurant that does quite a bit of business during now-canceled Pride celebrations? Maybe that’s where you’ll order the next team lunch. Is there an LGBTQ+ bar in town that is struggling to stay open? Ask whether it’s selling gift cards and purchase a few for an employee raffle.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your employees for ideas when it comes to charitable contributions. It’s likely that they already support organizations that you might not be aware of. You don’t want to tokenize or make your LGBTQ+ employees feel uncomfortable, so seek out the other voices you could bring to the table for these conversations.
More than anything, the best thing you can do to celebrate Pride Month is to extend that support throughout the entire year. If your organization is living out its values around inclusion and celebrating employees for who they are, well, that’s something to be proud of 365 days a year.
I love all things KC and live music. I'm always looking out for the best interests of my teammates, as well as opportunities to seamlessly slip a Michael Scott quote into conversations.