Each year, more and more businesses across the country update their logos with the rainbow symbol used to celebrate Pride Month in June. They do this marketing gesture in support of the LGBTQ+ community and embrace queer lives as important members in our society.
Pride Month is an entire month dedicated to uplift LGBTQ+ voices, celebrate LGBTQ+ culture and support LGBTQ+ rights. In the U.S., throughout the month of June, there are parades, protests, drag performances, and memorials and celebrations of life for members of the community who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. It is a form of political activism mixed with celebrations of the progress the LGBTQ+ community makes over the years toward equal treatment under the law and society.
Pride Month also coincides with the Gay Liberation Movement that was sparked by the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969, when police officers raided a popular gay bar in N.Y.C.’s West Village, The Stonewall Inn. Back in those days, raids by law enforcement happened regularly, but on this particular evening, the customers fought back, starting the Stonewall Riots, which went on for days. Later, The Stonewall Inn was declared a historic landmark by the city of New York in 2015 and later named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016.
As support for same-sex marriage hits an all-time high, LGBTQ+ civil rights remain under attack by opposing groups in the United States. Allies in the small business community are more important than ever.
Some will argue that standing up for love is now a political act, but the numbers reflect that it actually can help boost your bottom line. Simply look around at all the rainbow merchandise and marketing invested in support of equality. As a small business, you can show your support in many ways while growing your business.
Here are five ways a small business can play a big role to support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month and beyond.
- Join inclusive business groups. Today, there are wonderful business groups dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Many host diversity job fairs, business conferences and informational sessions to help raise awareness on issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. Considering exploring a membership with nonprofit organizations like One Community; you will be pleasantly surprised at the positive energy they create and resources they offer.
- Donate to LGBTQ+ organizations. Now more than ever, HIV charities need your support. These are the vital nonprofit organizations that work tirelessly to advance HIV research, provide care and housing to those in need, and offer outreach and education to prevent the further spread of infection. Consider providing financial support to Aunt Rita’s Foundation, which has demonstrated incredible leadership and knows how to stretch every financial contribution it receives to provide free resources.
- Sponsor an inclusivity event. Event sponsorships are a great way to support Pride events in your area while building a strong LGBTQ+ presence for your brand. Groups like One-N-Ten and Phoenix Pride have organized large-scale events to raise awareness on anti-bullying, youth homelessness and educational scholarships for LGBTQ+ community members.
- Offer employee resources by investing in inclusive programs. Develop a clear mission to show your support for LGBTQ+ members in your workplace by taking discrimination seriously and offering employee resource groups to your team. Having open and consistent dialogue with your LGBTQ+ resource group will improve employee engagement and company culture, and provide valuable information on ways to further innovate in the workplace.
- Show love. Caring about others should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately bias can blur how people see each other. Showing love simply means to not discriminate, disrespect or attack others for who they are. In today’s world and economy, love toward each other and the world we live in is an element needed for true sustainable success.
Becoming an ally is a positive move for your small business that will demonstrate to your consumer how you care for your fellow human beings and communicate how business is not always about the money. Use your voice, money, contacts and influence to help pave the way for a more inclusive world.
Happy Pride Month!
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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