Brands have long benefited from pride celebrations in June, but with many high-profile brands backing off this year due to the politically charged atmosphere, trust among values-driven consumers is eroding.
At Cannes this week, Sarah Kate Ellis, President of GLADD said, “Businesses need to stand for something in this environment. If they don’t want to, that is a business decision. If you look at today’s consumer, 20% of them are LGBTQ. These things have to matter to you, but they can’t just be marketing tactics. It must be authentic.”
Staying quiet during pride celebrations sends a clear message not only to your consumers, but your employees and stakeholders. GLAAD’s 2023 Accelerating Acceptance study revealed that 70% of non-LGBTQ+ adults agree companies should publicly support the LGBTQ+ community through hiring practices, advertising, and/or sponsorships.
So what should brands do in this environment? Checking the box for pride is no longer an option, there must be intention, empathy and thoughtfulness behind pride initiatives. In addition to flying rainbow flags and updating their logo on LinkedIn, brands must walk the walk. This is the time for brands to double down on their commitment to a community in peril, and not just in June but throughout the entire year. Rainbow washing is transparent to consumers. Brand initiatives must be backed up with tangible action to protect and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
Be inspired by brands, such as North Face, who are steadfast in their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. The hope is that in the future, more brands will consistently show up for this community throughout the year, when it matters the most, and not as a marketing tactic in June.
For my family this pride, we will continue to live our lives openly and honestly, and we’re very fortunate to have a workplace that authentically supports its employees and our families.
Hadas Streit is an EVP in the Corporate Practice based in NYC and leads the agency’s workplace team.