Five Tips For 2019 Pride Participation (Business Edition)

Pride Festival is in full swing in Cubert’s hometown of Toronto. And although we’re an LGBTQ owned and operated business, it’ll be our very first time celebrating Pride in this capacity.

So it’s important to us that we do it right.

A PRIMER

Toronto’s festival kicks off this weekend, but next Friday, June 28th, marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot. For those unaware, the Stonewall Riot is one of the most important moments in history for the LGBTQ community. It marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement and the end of an anti-gay legal system in the US. It was the first time the community stood together, as one, and demanded equality. The first anniversary of the riot, in 1970, marked the first ever Pride Parade.

Today, even after hard-won victories like Stonewall and the eventual legalization of gay marriage, members of the LGBTQ community are still facing hardships like discrimination in the workplace, street harassment, and violent attacks. Diversity education and inclusivity training are more important now than they’ve ever been before. And equally important is the concept of allyship.

ALLYSHIP

Individuals who don’t count themselves as members of the LGBTQ community can still act as allies by standing up for equality and supporting diversity in many ways. Calling out discriminatory practices in the workplace, wearing a Pride pin as a sign of solidarity, or using appropriate pronouns are just a few examples.

You don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ community to understand that its members face discrimination and suffer many disadvantages. Acknowledging this reality is the bare minimum required to be an ally. And there’s nothing new about being an ally either: Straight, cisgender people have been standing beside the LGBTQ community for decades.

What IS relatively new is the participation of businesses, brands, and organizations during Pride Month and the Pride Festivals happening around the world. That’s why we’ve put together this guide.

PRIDE OVER PROFITS

Remember when Pepsi and Kylie Jenner teamed up to fight racism and end police brutality? Probably not. Because what was most memorable about that campaign was the distasteful way two mega brands attempted to sell soda pop on the back of the Black Lives Matter movement.

This is, regrettably, a common occurrence. Social media has gifted us with a remarkable platform for marginalized groups to come together and rally against prejudice. The visibility and the momentum these groups have generated since the early 2000s has attracted swarms of marketers (and the brands they represent) eager to join the conversation.

At face value, this is a good thing. When an organization chooses to voice their support for a social movement, for example by participating in Pride, they transform their workplace into a safe space for marginalized members of society. It’s a major step towards equality.

The problem is when a business, brand, or organization attempts to capitalize on their support of social movements, like the aforementioned Pepsi x Kylie Jenner fiasco. With Pride support growing less risky by the year this is a justifiable concern. Without conviction, and without action, words of support simply ring hollow.

LEADERS WHO DO IT WELL

Starbucks offers comprehensive healthcare for transgender employees who elect to undergo certain procedures most companies wouldn’t dream of covering. In 2014, Burger King led the way for the fast food industry by selling rainbow-wrapped whoppers that unfolded to read, “we’re all the same on the inside.” It was maybe a bit tacky, but it was the first step taken by a relatively conservative industry. Coca-Cola featured a gay couple in a Super Bowl ad. It might seem like a small gesture, but they put their money where their mouth is by supporting diversity and inclusion on the most expensive advertising platform in the world.

A CAVEAT

Your organization doesn’t need to make a grand gesture towards the LGBTQ community to earn a badge of allyship. And you don’t have to wait until June every year to be an ally, either. Taking time to educate and train staff on LGBTQ sensitivities, providing gender-neutral restrooms, using proper pronouns, and implementing diverse hiring practices are all effective (and welcome) ways to support LGBTQ stakeholders.

And perhaps most importantly, these gestures put Pride and the LGBTQ community over profits. By enacting similar policies, and striving to transform your workplace into a safe space for marginalized individuals, you’ll do more good than any Pride-themed product packaging or publicity stunt ever will.

CUBERT’S BIG “CAKE”AWAY

As for us? This Friday the hardworking (and super talented) folks at Cubert will be treated to a Pride cake and a team discussion about diversity and inclusion. Making our offices a safe workplace has always been a top priority for us, and we’re recognizing this weekend as an opportunity to be extra mindful of our mission. We’ll also be donating 10% of our profits from sales on June 21st to the Rainbow Railroad. Their organization exists to help LGBTQ individuals escape danger and find refuge in safe places.

RECAP

Keep these tips in mind before participating in Pride:

  1. Don’t place profits over Pride. There’s nothing risky or groundbreaking about a brand that shows support for Pride anymore. Stunts designed strictly to generate sales and capitalize on the moment are hollow gestures (which everyone can see through).
  2. Do take active, meaningful steps towards making your workplace a safe space for LGBTQ people. While you’re at it, why not make it a safe space for ALL marginalized people?
  3. Don’t appropriate the Pride Rainbow if you’re unwilling to follow tip #2
  4. Do put your money where your mouth is and make a donation towards an organization that supports LGBTQ people.
  5. Don’t support the LGBTQ community once a year. Pride month, and your hometown’s Pride Festival are excellent opportunities to be mindful and take some initiative. But the LGBTQ community is LGBTQ 365 days a year.

We hope these tips help you do Pride right this year, but we hope you keep them in mind all year round even more.

Have a happy Pride 🏳️‍🌈