June marks LGBTQ+ Pride Month, chosen to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York on June 28th, 1969. The Stonewall Riots are viewed as the catalyst for the modern gay rights movement – an event which saw gay rights activists clash with police in a series of violent confrontations during raids at the Stonewall Inn, a sanctuary for drag queens and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
50 years on huge progression has been made toward achieving equality – but there is still a long way to go globally. Pride Month celebrates LGBTQ+ heritage and their many triumphs through adversity. Across the UK, a series of events are held throughout June in honour of the celebration, raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues as full inclusion is strived for.
Businesses are increasingly showing their support for the movement, which has undoubtedly made positive impacts – such as sending a clear message that workplace inclusion is being taken seriously. An example of this is MI5. They ranked top in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers 2018, which shows great progression considering the fact that the organisation refused to hire openly gay men or women up until 1991.
Getting businesses on board has also benefitted the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ employees, helping to ensure people feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation without fear of discrimination at work. With this being said, in a 2018 YouGov poll 35% of LGBTQ+ employees admitted they felt unable to reveal their sexuality to colleagues over fear of judgement and backlash.
The rise of Pride has also given businesses the opportunity to think about their corporate responsibility in supporting the gay rights movement, and whilst several genuine initiatives have helped to spread the message, some have proved problematic. For example, Primark launched its Pride range in 2018 and received backlash for selling the range which was made in countries where LGBTQ+ people face violence and persecution.
It can be argued that businesses claiming to support Pride need to do more to help organisers and show their support financially. UK SMEs have been getting involved with rainbow logos, banners, flags and trending hashtags on social media – a great starting point for sure, but how can businesses show their support further? We’ve outlined just a few ways businesses big and small can genuinely embrace Pride, and not just piggy-back off the latest trend in a bid to appear involved when marketing their brand.
Pride In London
Businesses can get involved in Pride In London. Run wholly by volunteers, this not-for-profit organisation uses funds to support the LGBTQ+ community and improve the annual event which is happening on 6th July this year. Businesses in London can partner with Pride and work together to ‘ensure diversity is embedded in the core’ of each company. There are several opportunities for partnership, including becoming a sponsor, partner, supporter, media partner and digital partner.
Pride In The City
Pride in the City is a new initiative that is run in conjunction with Pride In London, focused on supporting inclusivity in business. The initiative is delivered in partnership with OUTstanding, a corporate members organisation for LGBTQ+ leaders and their allies. Pride in the City brings together organisations from a variety of industries to support inclusion. If your business would like to be involved, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
“London is home to one of the largest, most visible and diverse LGBT+ communities in the world, one that contributes a huge amount to our city’s success – socially, culturally and economically. The capital should be a place where LGBT+ people feel truly valued, healthy, happy and safe. Businesses in London play a vital role in helping us achieve that goal for their employees and colleagues, but also for clients and customers, ensuring that people can be their best self at work.
I welcome Pride in London’s plans to further promote diversity and inclusion within the workplace and I urge organisations around the capital to throw their support behind this important initiative.” — Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
Brighton & Hove Pride
Businesses in Brighton can engage with Brighton & Hove Pride, one of the UK’s biggest, most globally recognised Pride events. Brighton Pride CIC fundraises for the Rainbow Fund, and in the last 6 years over £705,000 has been raised. Backed by major brands like American Express and Virgin Holidays, there are several opportunities at all investment levels.
Support LGBTQ+ Charities & Not For Profit Organisations
Kaleidoscope Trust: The Kaleidoscope Trust supports the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world, working with parliament, government ministers, officials and policy makers to make real change. They have several options for businesses wanting to get involved and show their support. From becoming a sponsor to participating in corporate charity fundraising, proceeds will go toward providing global support for LGBTQ+ citizens.
Just Like Us: This charity is focused on young people growing up LGBTQ+. This organisation offers corporate partnerships that provide vital support to achieving their goals in UK schools. Businesses can sponsor Just Like Us, provide training for volunteers to improve their skills and maximise their impact, as well as deliver pro bono advice and solutions to support the organisations growth.
Workplace Pride: Workplace Pride is a not for profit dedicating to improving the lives of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and intersex (LGBTI) people in workplaces across the globe. The pillars of the foundation’s work are awareness raising, measurement, research, training and network building through targeted events. Businesses can help make a difference by becoming a member, or donating to the cause.
Stonewall: An LGBTQ+ rights charity named after the Stonewall Riots with the mission to ‘let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone’. There are several ways businesses can engage with Stonewall. Larger, more established businesses can become corporate partners, where smaller businesses can sponsor initiatives, volunteer their time and explore Stonewall’s programmes and opportunities that are designed to help businesses create LGBT-inclusive workplaces and services. Stonewall also offers workplace events run by inclusion experts who can help business owners build practical action plans within their organisations to support LGBTQ+ employees.
The Final Word
This list is by no means extensive, so take time to research how best your business can get involved. There isn’t anything wrong with changing your company logo to show support for Gay Pride, providing the purpose is genuine and not just for good publicity!
Continue to challenge bigotry and ensure your workplace truly has inclusive policies in place. Pride is bigger than a rainbow logo, and businesses need to use their voice, power and influence to help propel real change.