In this space, each month, I usually write about how organizations can craft messages that engage, energize, and excite the people most important to their success. At Spencer Brenneman, we will stay committed to that ideal. Still, this month, I want to write about how organizations disseminate messages but also about how we all consume them.
By now, you have undoubtedly seen many corporations rainbowing their logos in support of LGBTQ+ Month. Isn’t that nice? It might be. It might also be complete hypocrisy.
Signs of Authenticity
Here are five ways to identify authentic support for LGBTQ+ people. I understand this is a complex issue and that falling short in one area doesn’t necessarily mean their support is entirely inauthentic. However, in their totality, these signs can paint an accurate picture of these corporate values. Nonetheless, here they are:
- Refer to the Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is a national benchmarking tool that measures policies, practices, and benefits relevant to LGBTQ+ employees. Companies that participate in the CEI survey demonstrate a commitment to implementing LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices.
- Look under the hood. Do they offer gender-inclusive benefits, support an employee resource group (ERG), and have policies to ask abusive customers and encourage them to take their business elsewhere?
- View their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. Do they incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity protections in their CSR criteria, and do they provide philanthropic support to LGBTQ+ organizations?
- Check to see which politicians they support. Open Secrets is a nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. For example, according to Fortune, many companies on its Fortune 500 list have donated more than $3 million to anti-LGBTQ campaigns while still projecting an outward message of support.
- Are they standing up or standing down? Finally, are they taking a stand when faced with laws restricting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community or suggesting it does not impact them? Disney’s recent pushback to laws in Florida offers a perfect example.
These last two points are extremely important, more so today than any time in recent memory. Here’s why:
Many political leaders in the United States are attempting to turn the LGBTQ+ community into a common enemy of the state. In particular, many are singling out gender-diverse and transgender men, women, and children as serious threats to the safety and well-being of us all. They also prevent parents from making important decisions about their transgender children, ignoring guidance from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics.
There are hundreds of examples of how some politicians are crafting messages of division, ignorance, and intolerance. For example, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC): Year-to-Date there have been:
- Over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, a record;
- Over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, also a record; and
- A record 70 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted so far this year, including laws that:
- Ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth;
- Require or allow the misgendering of transgender students;
- Target drag performances;
- Create licenses to discriminate; and
- Censor school curricula, including books.
You do not have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to take notice of what is happening. These actions are not intended to protect children, give parents more control, or return society to a more wholesome way of life. They are intended to gain political power by manipulating voters into believing there is a common enemy at large. Sound familiar?
Of course, it’s not just the LGBTQ+ community in danger. All people of color are increasingly under attack. For example, last month, the NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory for Florida. The same principles we shared above apply to any marginalized group.
What is my point? My point is as consumers of messages, it is incumbent upon us to vet their authenticity. It is also incumbent upon corporations that support their LGBTQ+ employees and customers to do more than just change the color of their logos.
Why Pride Matters
Pride is and should be a celebration of the diversity of the human experience and a recognition of the hard-won rights the LGBTQ+ community now enjoys. It should also be a time to remind ourselves that more work is needed and those rights are not necessarily permanent.