Pride represents a time to celebrate all forms of love and identity for the LGBTQIA+ community. This is a period of reflection, celebration and love for a group of people who have been through so much as a collective. While it is a time to look at all that has been accomplished over the years, and to be proud of the strides that have been made, it is also a time to look to the future and understand that there is still work to be done as we move toward greater inclusivity and respect for all, despite our differences.
Let’s be honest: Some may see this month of celebration as a tumultuous month when it comes to Pride activity and the ways in which it’s showcased. While the community itself looks forward to celebration and reflection, companies around the world work to underscore their support and recognition of the community. At Hotwire, Pride is something that is carefully considered and handled with authenticity being top-of-mind. Meetings and discussions around the type of support to showcase, how much is too much, and methods in which we can genuinely and authentically support without being performative, are had amongst the team. With our support of Pride month being engrained in our company values, we work to amplify Pride from a perspective of education, substance, and respect.
There are a number of ways that we recognize the community, show our support and help to keep our employees educated and engaged. This begins internally, with communications around the history of the Pride movement, spotlighting key disruptors who have helped progress the movement and sharing general information around why the community celebrates and what is still to come. Educating our employees around the reasons of why Pride month came to be and the obstacles that are faced each day helps bring a sense of understanding, which we believe will only help with added progression and cohesion. Through internal learning and resource groups, we hope to keep Hotwire employees informed and feeling that they are able to bring their entire selves to work – no matter how they identify. Fostering an environment of inclusivity is key to our Hotwire culture, and the DEI council we have created is meant to enable an open and safe space for important discussions around any matters at hand.
While internal alignment is imperative, this is only the beginning of the reinforcement that aids in the progression of the movement. There are dozens of organizations that continuously fight for the community’s rights, advocate for those who don’t have a voice, and provide necessary aid for those who are struggling. Organizations like The Trevor Project, the Ali Forney Center, and GLAAD provide a plethora of resources and assets to members of the community who are in need. Hotwire helps to support organizations like these by making it easy for employees to donate and then matching those donations. Additionally, we work to boost the voices of these organizations through acknowledgement, both on social media and within our company. By helping to elevate, we hope to shine a light on those doing the actual change-work needed and helping make their continued efforts known.
Communications throughout the month of Pride have always been sporadic, depending on which medium you are engaging with. While companies sought to show their support, it was sometimes hard to tell who was doing so authentically. Companies that touted rainbow flags in their marketing efforts sometimes didn’t have the background work to show that their efforts were genuine. It’s easy to come off as performative when the work behind-the-scenes doesn’t match the rainbows being showcased across company’s social media and product campaigns. Some companies did, in fact, do it right. Brands like Adidas show their allyship beyond surface-level promotions, by not only having rainbow campaigns during the month of Pride but also donating year-round to LGBTQIA+ organizations and nonprofits and working with LGBTQIA+ artists, designers and athletes.
When there is a lack of authenticity in support for the community, efforts fall short and rainbow-washing comes into play. Only showcasing rainbow colors and pandering to the gay community shows minimal effort and doesn’t help to advance the hard work that is being done within and around the community. It should never be a goal to leverage LGBTQIA+ individuals in advertising campaigns in a way that tokenizes and/or stereotypes these communities. Instead, it’s crucial to include individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ as a way to normalize these communities and give them a voice they potentially didn’t have before.
While it’s important to showcase your support for the LGBTQIA+ community, there is a right way and a potentially inauthentic way. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to showing that you are an authentic ally, but there is a way to do so where it isn’t just an act that tokenizes the community and their struggles. Start with internal research to educate yourself and/or your team. See how companies have successfully supported in the past and lead by their example. Additionally, consult within your teams and open the floor up to new ideas, initiatives, organizations to amplify and donate to, and always make sure that members of the team who identify as a part of the community have a voice. If they are comfortable and willing to do so, have them help inform campaigns and initiatives. Resource groups, inclusivity counsels, and general education around the topic are a great way to start showing support outside of generic rainbows posted on social media.
The efforts of Pride don’t stop for the LGBTQIA+ community at the end of June. This is a constant endeavor that continues all year long and needs genuine support. Companies need to do their best to show their support throughout the year and not only be an ally to showcase how progressive and accepting they are during Pride. Think proactively and look ahead at what can be done in upcoming months, what events and campaigns are being worked on in the community, and how your company can be of help.