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Pride Month 2021
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An authentic Pride, devoid of rainbow-washing

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PracticeWEB’s Melissa Tredinnick explores whether launching a Pride campaign is a good idea and how to make a difference without detracting from the real issue.

8th Jun 2021
Technology and Innovation Editor PracticeWEB
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As cities gear up for celebrations and rainbows start popping up on Twitter logos, it’s hard to miss the fact that Pride month is here. 

With more businesses getting involved in promoting the event each year, you might be wondering if your accountancy firm should be doing something to mark the occasion.

Inclusion is, after all, much needed in many UK workplaces, with 35% of LGBT+ staff saying they have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. 

Some 40% of LGBT+ employees and 55% of trans employees, meanwhile, have experienced workplace conflict in the past 12 months, compared to  29% of heterosexual and cisgender employees.

Using your platform as an employer to denounce discrimination and promote inclusion can certainly be impactful. What better way to do this, you might think, than to make a statement during the month of June?

Corporate involvement in Pride is something of a contentious topic, however. While on one hand it might be seen as a well-meaning gesture of support, it can on the other feel to many like profiteering. 

There’s growing resistance to what’s known as ‘rainbow-washing’, where companies that have done very little otherwise to support the LGBT+ community run pride-themed promotions or products.

The backlash isn’t just because people are tired of seeing rainbows slapped on everything from sandwiches to mouthwash. It’s also because by treating Pride in much the same way as they would treat a seasonal marketing opportunity like Christmas or the summer holidays, the companies running those campaigns are ignoring the real significance of the event. 

While Pride is a celebration, it’s also a political statement about the current and historical marginalisation of LGBT+ people. With that in mind, treating the month as a themed campaign simply isn’t enough. But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing at all.

Start from within

Any marketing activity you do should come from a place of authenticity, and that’s even more important for events like this.

So before you think about what your firm could do externally for Pride, give some real thought to your internal culture and values. Is inclusion clearly built into your firm’s policies, with regards to things like your hiring practices, employee benefits, wellbeing and so on? Do your policies specifically reference LGBT+ staff?

Inclusion should be something you work on year-round, so if this is the only time you do anything in support of the LGBT+ community, a Pride campaign is probably not a good idea. 

Similarly, if rainbows and glitter aren’t really suited to your company’s brand, it’s likely to come across as somewhat insincere if you start using them as part of your campaign then drop them for the rest of the year.

But if you’ve already given serious thought to diversity and inclusion within your business, and you and your team are genuinely passionate about it, then a campaign in time for Pride could be a good way to demonstrate those internal values and send a positive message.

Amplify and donate

Let’s be clear: the aim of your campaign should be first and foremost to benefit the LGBT+ community. 

The most tangible, and often the most impactful way you can do that is by donating to a cause.

There are lots of great charities to choose from that promote LGBT+ awareness and acceptance, campaign for legal equality and rights, offer support for mental health and wellbeing, and many more important initiatives.

From running challenges to cake sales, getting your team fundraising is a practical way to make a difference. 

Another good option is to share articles, blog posts and social media updates from LGBT+ people, especially those relevant to your industry. That way, you can amplify those people’s voices, share a range of perspectives, and participate in Pride in a meaningful way.

Sift Pride Month 2021

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