Pride and (No) Prejudice Podcast

Pride and (No) Prejudice

Listen to the podcast

 

The importance of inclusive, marketing and communications during Pride month and how businesses can ensure their communications are sincere.

As we draw a close on LGBTQ+ Pride month 2022, Bright’s Head of People and Culture, Alex Jefferies and Communications Manager, Danny Whitebread, sit down and discuss Pride, the importance of it and how marketing during Pride can be more sincere. You can listen to the conversation directly in our short podcast below or view the written conversation.

Read the transcript below:

Alex

So, if you could just describe to me, what is LGBTQ+ pride, and why is it celebrated annually?

Danny

Pride month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honour the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan. This year also marks 50 years since the first Pride March took place in the UK on the 1 July 1972. The Stonewall uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States, and really changed the course of history for LGBTQ+ people worldwide.

Each year, millions of LGBTQ+ identifying people and allies celebrate individuality and freedom of expression throughout the month. Although, it’s good to still remember that Pride is a protest some 50 years on. I think we can get quite comfortable in the West and in the UK, especially, because people are generally more accepting and tolerant to people who are different to them, but there are still 69 countries across the globe where it is illegal to be gay. Some of those countries pushing for the death penalty just because of someone sexual orientation or gender identity.

Even though homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 in England, and same sex marriage was legalised in 2014, there is still damaging conversion therapy, which is still legal in the UK. The Government this year announced that it will ban the practice but that ban unfortunately doesn’t include transgender and non-binary people. So, I think it’s still important to remember that pride is still a protest until we are all equal, accepted, and respected.

Alex

It’s so important to remember that we’ve come so far in those 50 years, but there’s still a long way to go.

Danny

Definitely. I think we are moving forward, and I think a lot more companies are starting to realise the benefits of celebrating pride and just celebrating the people who they employ.

So why is something like pride important for businesses to acknowledge?

Alex

I think it’s all about making sure that your business and organisation is inclusive and showing your LGBTQ+ employees that you respect them and that they can bring their full selves to work. Recent studies show that productivity increases when a company has an inclusive culture. It’s also something at Bright we really instil in our people, that there’s no judgment and that you can bring your whole self to work, we embrace that as a company.

Danny

There is a saying that LGBTQ+ people never stop coming out. I am a gay man and every client I meet, every employer I meet, I wonder how accepting are they? These days I’ve got thicker skin, so I go straight in and just let everyone know I have a same sex partner and we live together. My way of thinking is if an employer is intolerant, then I don’t want to be working for them. Luckily at Bright we don’t have that issue. I’ve got very supportive colleagues, it was a complete non-issue, as it should be. I think they more raised an eyebrow because my partner and I both share the same first name ha-ha.

Alex

I think as an employer, we need to realise that LGBTQ+ people may be a bit anxious on their first day or that when they go into client meetings for the first time, they might just need extra support to show that we are an inclusive space.

Danny

That’s why the visibility piece during Pride and the rest of the year is so important. If companies are outwardly showing on their social media channels and their website, that they’re a welcoming place for LGBT people, then when new people start at that company and see that support and symbolism, they’re going to feel a lot more comfortable from the get-go.

Alex

Exactly. Although there’s this thing called ‘pink washing’ isn’t there, can you explain to us what, what pink washing means?

Danny

Pink washing also known as queer baiting is very similar to greenwashing, with the whole sustainability piece for a lot of clothing brands. However, this time it’s about supporting the LGBTQ+ community. During the month of June, pretty much every brand changes their logo to incorporate the Pride rainbow. And although we applaud brands for publicly supporting and creating awareness, as said that visibility piece is important, however when it’s only used to further their own agenda, there’s something wrong there.

So, in short it’s brands reaping the benefits of selling diversity without doing the legwork to support the community. Today there’s a larger focus on the policies surrounding hiring processes, especially transgender people who need that extra support. Employers also have a responsibility to look at policies like parental leave for example, ensuring they cover same-sex couples. Companies need to be looking at their own processes and how they can make them more inclusive.

Alex

It’s a term I hadn’t heard before. It’s interesting to hear because you can see the companies that are obviously pink washing. Their EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity) posts and rainbow logo are there for a month and then they’re gone with no mention at all throughout the rest of the year. Pride and supporting the community isn’t just a month-long thing it’s something that has to be instilled in everything that you do.

Danny

It is important to remember that no company is perfect, and I think companies need to get better accepting that there is no better time to start than now. People want to see humility and honesty around these subjects and admitting you may haven’t got it right but are working towards making it better is a great start.

Alex, how do you make sure your marketing during Pride comes across as sincere?

Alex

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the cause you’re supporting the more effective that support can be. Making sure that we have two-way conversations, to really understand what it is that we’re supporting and what we can do to make it better.

For marketing, one of the best ways your brand can show genuine support during the month is by highlighting how the company’s internal policies and practices really embody the ideals that the Pride month represents. And like you said, not every company is going be perfect, but wanting to learn, wanting to change, wanting to make sure that your company is inclusive and involving people in those decision making is what is important.

Danny

Absolutely. And this covers anything in the EDI space. If you are doing work around racial inequality and disability awareness for example, involving those voices, and lifting those voices up is so important, there is a large campaign about this now that is called ‘Not about us, without us.’ If you’ve got a group of people who all look and sound the same, you may think you are doing good work, but it’s easy to get stuck in an echo chamber and you’re not addressing some of the real issues.

Alex

So, Danny, if we’re going to leave this podcast, what are the four best ways businesses can ensure their communications are inclusive?

Danny

  1. Don’t make assumptions about your staff and how they identify, try to use non-gendered language, especially in communications in emails, the ‘Dear Sirs’ are ancient history. I used to work in civil engineering and a lot of the women engineers that I used to work with used to get really fed up with street signs saying men working overhead, language like that, is completely exclusive of a huge range of brilliant women engineers.
  2. Diversifying your team, taking the time to reflect upon who you’re placing on boards and panels, are they gender diverse? Are they ethnically diverse and considering intersectionality?
  3. Be mindful of your own reference group. We tend to default to our own lived experiences when trying to process things which are unfamiliar.
  4. Recognise the need for equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives beyond Pride, celebrating your people’s individuality and uniqueness all year round, but making sure that’s backed up by the processes and procedures ensuring you’re really supporting them and it’s not just at face value.

 

If you’re looking for ways to make sure your communications align with your core company values, then get in touch with either Alex or Danny today and let’s work together for more inclusive communications.

Jake WilliamsPride and (No) Prejudice Podcast