Home Business  Be Proud All Year Round: Can We Summon The Grit For Pride All Year? 
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 Be Proud All Year Round: Can We Summon The Grit For Pride All Year? 

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By Margaret Molloy, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale

In June 2022, more than a million people attended the 50th anniversary of the London Pride Parade —a positive sign as brands signaled support for their LGBTQ+ communities. Pride conveys openness and celebration of who and how LGBTQ+ people love, while also implying emotional resilience that gives humanity grit.  As an ally and a keen observer of brands, the big question that I’ll ponder throughout the year is, “Can we, as an industry, summon the grit to tell nuanced, inclusive stories all year round?” 

My answer is yes. I host a regular panel of global CMOs to discuss these very topics. During pride month, our panel included leaders in finance, B-corp, a social app, personal care, e-commerce, international development and hospitality. They spoke about how their brands commit to Pride both internally and externally. What struck me during our panel is that there’s room for everyone in the conversation to lift our LGBTQ+ stakeholders and allies, and in a way that evolves in the context of a brand’s business mission all year long. This commitment requires all brand leaders (irrespective of their identities) to maintain momentum. We will continue learning from the community and celebrate them beyond June, become authentically supportive and transparent, and amplify diversity and inclusion. I’ve taken inspiration from some notable artists to help illustrate this opportunity. 

 

Always learning 

 “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” –Audre Lorde

As brand leaders, we have a platform to foster curiosity about differences and learn how to create the conditions for everyone to be successful. When you’re truly curious, there’s no room for judgment. Creativity, engagement and commerce tend to follow when minds and hearts open. 

Brands that invest in true inclusion not only earn loyalty from their LGBTQ+ employees and customers, but also from allies who are watching and want to support with their business loyalty.

 “Goldman Sachs did a number of things to support me, but the best thing that they did was very early in the process when I told them I wanted to come out,” said Maeve DuVally, (former) managing director, Corporate Communications, who underwent a gender transition. “They assigned somebody from human resources to be my relationship manager and for any issue that arose, that person took care of for me. She may not have known immediately how to handle it, but she learned and by doing that, Goldman Sachs is just going to get better and better each time a transgender employee wants to come out.” 

 Choose authenticity

“I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” – James Baldwin

Increasingly we are seeing a divergence among brands: Some are being performative in June and effectively rainbow-washing. Others genuinely want to make a positive impact by taking a holistic, year-long approach to inclusivity. This means going all in, all year, on backing up our commitments to inclusion with appropriate resources and tenacity.   

“We get asked a lot to help brands with various brand partnerships and activations to shore up the authenticity of their Pride campaigns,” said Patrick Lenihan, VP, head of communications at Grindr. “We are very happy to work with brands to better connect them with LGBTQ people. … but it’s exhausting too because typically we get calls a couple months before June saying, ‘Hey can we do something with you?’ We would love to work with them, not only in June but throughout the course of the 12 months available to us during which queer people continue to exist.”

Creating a better tomorrow

The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to.” – Harvey Milk

Marketing, at its heart, is about creating hope. As marketers, our job is to inspire dreams, educate minds, and paint pictures of a brighter future. Nuanced and true representation in marketing helps society move beyond stereotypes to greater tolerance and empathy. By engaging in marketing and celebrating the vast spectrum of the LGBTQ+ experience while shattering stereotypes, brands ignite conversations and change perceptions. 

“Four out of every ten homeless youth are queer, which is over-indexed relative to the general population,” said Kate Huyett, CMO for Bombas. “We always take issues through the lens of our mission. We felt like [Pride] was a very relevant place for us to step in. We work with giving partners that specifically support the LGBTQIA + community all year round.” Since 2019, Bombas has donated nearly 700,000 items to those organizations.

A company-wide education

A key takeaway from this panel is that there is a vast intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to class, race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation and other identifiers. Year-long support sounds complex and possibly daunting. But when brands and brand leaders take time to understand and commit to going forward with grit—to keep learning, to act authentically, and assign resources—together, we have a formula for true authenticity, allyship and success.

Author Bio:

Margaret Molloy is Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale, a world-renowned global brand experience firm, and the host of the “How CMOs Commit” podcast.

 

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