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Why Big LGBTQIA+ Campaigns Can Be Lip Service (and What you Can Do That Really Matters)

Jun 26, 2023
Why Big LGBTQIA+ Campaigns Can Be Lip Service (and What you Can Do That Really Matters)

As we come to the end of pride month, it can be a reflective period for a lot of organisations who have created pride initiatives for the month of June. Campaigns are a great way to raise awareness not only outside your organisation but within it, too. It can shed light on how inclusive (or non-inclusive) your organisation is as well as the measures that you need to take to ensure that what you’re doing doesn’t end up being “lip service” and instead, has meaning. 

Rainbow merch is great, but it has to go beyond this 

“Rainbow-washing” has been spoken about a lot this pride month, which in essence makes reference to organisations who simply invest in a lot of rainbow merchandise (or use rainbows in their marketing) to demonstrate their pride efforts. Although there's absolutely nothing wrong with changing your logo to feature or incorporate a rainbow, a meaningful pride campaign has to go beyond this. 

In essence, activists and organisations who are calling out companies doing this aren’t trying to bring negativity - but instead educate and explain that adding a rainbow or using a rainbow to lead your campaign can often lead companies to miss the mark. Pride campaigns are more than just rainbows to show solidarity - they have to have some “meat” behind them and meaning. 

The beauty of running a pride campaign is that there are so many different angles you can take - you don't have to follow what other companies are doing. It’s also crucial to do something that is sustainable for your company size and will also have a positive impact on your employees. 

If that’s having a dress-down day to raise money for LGBTQIA+ charities, great. If that’s running training sessions on how to best support LGBTQIA+ folk at work - even better! There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to running a pride campaign, but paying lip service is doing something without any substance or thought - so if your campaign this year was rainbows and nothing else, have a think about what could be more impactful for next years’ pride and how you can really make a difference.

Ask for feedback

A great way to continuously improve and also avoid lip service is to ask for direct feedback from all of your employees. Regardless of anyone’s sexuality at work, if this is something that your employees care about, then they’re going to give you their honest opinions on how you can be better. An anonymous survey or even verbal feedback within teams can enable you to do a temperature check on what went well with your pride campaign this year, what you can do better, as well as ideas for next year. It also ensures that your employees are engaged. 

If you have members of the community within your organisation who are open to talking about this year's campaigns, invite them and ensure that their voices are heard. Ultimately, you want to ensure that your external campaign matches up with what you’re doing internally, as the last thing you want is disgruntled employees who feel as though they’ve been misrepresented, or even worse, working for an organisation who don’t practice what they preach. 

Ensure that what you’re doing is all year round, not just in June

Like with any notable day or month, it is incredibly easy to pay attention to it only when it’s a recognised date - instead of really putting it into practice all year round. If you are creating a ton of content for pride month and pride month only, or you’re raising money for an LGBTQIA+ charity only in the month of June, can you extend this to the whole year? 

Why don’t you spread out all the initiatives that you’d just do in June and instead create something that is consistent and will be manageable for the whole year? Again, not every business will have the capacity to do this - so definitely treat it on a case-by-case basis, but ensuring that you “practice what you preach” all-year round is so important. 

We have created a guide for employers on how they can support LGBTQIA+ folk at work, download it here.

A FREE guide breaking down actionable ways to be inclusive.

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