Approaching Pride Month: A Guide for Businesses to Celebrate Inclusivity

Hana Lasell
Businessman in a suit with sign of LGBT and lesbian gay bisexual and transgender people

Pride Month commemorates years of struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equal justice under the law for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, as well as the accomplishments and contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals. It is celebrated in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York, which was a turning point for the Gay Liberation movement in the United States.  

For businesses, Pride month presents an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity, connect with diverse audiences, and foster an environment of belonging and support. However, approaching Pride Month must be done thoughtfully and respectfully. In this article, we will explore how businesses can approach Pride Month to ensure that their actions are genuine, meaningful, and impactful.

1. Educate Yourself and Your Team 

Before engaging with Pride Month, take the time to educate yourself and your team about the history, significance, and challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Understand the various identities, terminology, and experiences to avoid misrepresentation or causing unintentional harm, and be sure to consider the ways that intersectionality influences the experiences of LGBTQ+ folks. Encourage open dialogue and provide resources, such as workshops or educational materials, to foster a more inclusive workplace culture. 

2. Be Authentic and Sincere 

When engaging with Pride Month, it is crucial to be authentic and sincere in your approach. Pride is not just a marketing opportunity, but a celebration of identities and a recognition of the ongoing struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Align your company’s values with the spirit of Pride and ensure your initiatives are genuinely supportive. Authenticity can be demonstrated through long-term commitment rather than short-term campaigns.¬†

3. Collaborate with LGBTQ+ Organizations 

Partnering with LGBTQ+ organizations can help businesses amplify their impact and establish meaningful connections. Collaborate with local or national LGBTQ+ nonprofits, community centers, or advocacy groups that work directly with the community. Engage in conversations to understand their needs, and explore ways to support their initiatives, such as sponsorships, donations, or volunteering. By doing so, businesses can contribute directly to uplifting LGBTQ+ communities year-round and build strong partnerships based on shared values. 

4. Review and Update Policies 

Pride Month serves as a reminder to businesses to review their internal policies and ensure they prioritize inclusivity and equity. Conduct an audit of your company’s policies, including those related to anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, and LGBTQ+ rights. For example: Your organization might take a look at your anti-discrimination policies to make sure that they include explicit language about LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination. Make necessary revisions and communicate the updates to your employees. This demonstrates a commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture where all individuals feel safe, respected, and valued.¬†

5. Engage Employees and Foster Inclusivity 

Employees are the driving force behind any successful business. Actively involve your employees in Pride Month initiatives by creating internal programs that encourage dialogue, inclusivity, and support. Organize LGBTQ+ awareness training sessions, establish employee resource groups or affinity networks, and provide platforms for employees to share their experiences and perspectives. Celebrate the diversity within your workforce and ensure everyone feels empowered and included. 

6. Avoid Tokenism and Pinkwashing 

While it is essential for businesses to show support during Pride Month, it is crucial to avoid tokenism or pinkwashing. Tokenism refers to mere symbolic gestures that lack substantive action or long-term commitment‚ÄĒfor example: Changing your company‚Äôs social media logo to rainbow without changing your internal culture to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals. Instead, focus on genuine efforts that promote inclusivity throughout the year. Pinkwashing occurs when a business attempts to profit from Pride Month without actively supporting LGBTQ+ rights or inclusivity in their practices‚ÄĒfor example: Selling Pride-branded merchandise while purchasing from vendors who support anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Be authentic and transparent in your support, ensuring it aligns with your company’s values and long-term commitments.¬†

Approaching Pride Month requires businesses to go beyond superficial gestures and actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the year. By being intentional, businesses can create a positive impact on their company culture, and on society as a whole. Remember, Pride Month is not just a marketing opportunity; it is a chance to raise awareness about inequities, effect change on many levels, and be strong allies for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Let YW Boston help you design your DEI strategy so you are better prepared to engage with your audiences and staff on what matters to them. Learn more here.