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Pride Month is celebrated all month long in June, commemorating LGBTQ activism and culture. During Pride month, we honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising – a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States – and recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. This year, Pride month may have more urgency than ever given that The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) yesterday “officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ people in the U.S., citing the passage of more than 75 laws in over a dozen states that explicitly target the community.”

Every year in June, companies hurry to post a rainbow logo or to share a few supportive words. Showcasing public support is a good idea, but there are important considerations and caveats. For instance,

  • pride support should not be an isolated exercise;
  • publicizing your support can also be politically challenging and have meaningful business impacts;
  • events in the past week have shown various unfortunate negative impacts for Anheuser-Busch and Target for actions they took in supporting LGBTQ communities; and
  • employees and consumers can easily spot performative acts which tend to fall flat or backfire.

Corporate actions should authentically represent the company’s internal commitment to pride causes. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask this question:

How can you use your individual and corporate power and privilege to advocate for LGBTQ+ communities?

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Push back against anti-LGBTQ legislation
  • Support your LGBTQ Employee Resource Group through resources and leadership engagement.
  • Audit your internal documents and external products to make any findings of gender-binary language more inclusive
  • Partner with LGBTQ-owned businesses for your personal and company vendor needs
  • Incorporate pronouns into standard business email signatures and educate employees to ensure that they respect the pronouns of all employees.
  • Extend health and insurance benefits to same-sex partners.
  • Make provisions for gender-affirming medical care
  • Assess your company’s products and services to understand whether they adequately serve LGBTQ consumers.

Pride month is far more than celebrating a rainbow flag.  For individuals and companies, this should be a reminder to center groups that have long been discriminated against, excluded, and marginalized based on gender identity or sexual orientation. A DEI initiative that doesn’t meaningfully support LGBTQ communities and causes falls short.

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The Editor

Ngozi Okeh is an experienced leader with a history of driving efforts to conceptualize, define, assess and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as strategic business processes. Ngozi is currently the Director of DEI at a leading marketing technology company where she develops and executes enterprise-wide DEI initiatives through rigorous strategic planning efforts, community partnerships, leadership collaboration, strategy evaluation, and careful management of communication and buy-in as well as policies and procedures.  Previously, she worked at an independent mortgage bank, where… View Profile