Throughout June we saw businesses across the UK and beyond transform their logos to incorporate the rainbow flag for Pride Month. In doing so, calls of tokenism rang around those businesses that don’t hold up the flag for LGBTQ+ inclusion through the remaining 11 months of the year.
So, what should businesses do? Are they meant to advertise their LGBTQ+ inclusion and diversity or should they stay quiet? Here we take a dive into the argument of whether to flag or not to flag, because that has been the question on all senior board teams’ lips in June and will be again next summer. Do you run the risk of not being an ally by staying silent or are you deemed to be jumping on the bandwagon and profiteering if you do go for the loud and proud approach?
Do your values align?
To make an informed decision, companies must consider the essence of Pride Month and its underlying message. Pride is not just a celebration but is a symbol of resilience and ongoing advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights. It represents the struggles and progress made by the community throughout history. Therefore, businesses need to align their actions with these values.
You might think that you are getting it right by transforming your logo but that can often be seen as performative if you don’t back that up by supporting LGBTQ+ employees, customers and their causes. Instead, celebrate how you create safe and equitable environments for LGBTQ+ individuals all year round by fostering diversity in the workplace, and supporting LGBTQ+ organisations.
With 80% of the LGBT+ community viewing their work as a ‘safe space’ according to research from Creative Equals and UM London Research, it’s important that companies are honouring and encouraging that dynamic. When you consider that a 2019 Deloitte Report found that 83% of the LGBTQIA+ community are ‘covering up’ something about themselves, vs 45% of straight white males, making that work environment inclusive should enable people across our society to ‘fit in’.
That was the approach Nexus took when they approached our agency earlier this year. At Different Narrative we’re lucky to work with organisations that match our values and culture and we are delighted to have supported their campaigns to promote Sunderland Pride and Northern Pride, both taking place this month.
With the Tyne and Wear Metro transporting members of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to both cities and the surrounding areas, Nexus’ campaign has been built around inclusion, love and support, while encouraging individuals to be their true selves. Nexus went beyond posters and banners advertising safe transport to Pride events. They went further by celebrating, supporting and declaring their love for their customers through features in Monument station which were built around acceptance and finding a space free from violence and persecution, while also promoting their campaign across social media.
Nexus committed to attending the Northern Pride-run Proud Allies training, while also promoting the Pride march on July 22nd among its workforce. A series of internal communications were issued to highlight the importance of Pride to Nexus.
Equality drives long-term brand benefit
A comprehensive approach involves incorporating LGBTQ+ perspectives into your decision making. Embrace diverse voices and promote equality. Not only will your business be more likely to be seen as a genuine ally to the community, it will also benefit from the wider sections of society feeling a greater sense of connection to your brand values too.
Brand value alignment has become an increasingly important aspect of marketing for many companies. It is crucial for brands to demonstrate their support. Do this by being authentic and avoiding tokenism, use inclusive language and imagery while avoiding LGBTQ+ stereotypes and be more than the flag – demonstrate partnership and collaboration and enact change through social responsibility.
Authenticity is key in LGBTQ+ advertising, and brands should strive to go beyond surface-level support and engage in long-term partnerships that really promote inclusion and diversity. If you’d like to chat with our team about how to get your advertising campaign off the ground, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org