With every Pride, support from businesses and brands for the LGBTQ+ community becomes stronger and more visible. The need to be inclusive, and visibly so, isn’t just a social responsibility — it’s also increasingly an imperative for business performance.
According to this research featured in Harvard Business Review (HBR), 82% of non-LGBTQ+ consumers across multiple markets say they are more likely to purchase from a company that supports LGBTQ+ equality. For companies striving to recruit and retain talent, making the workplace inclusive and safe for LGBTQ+ employees also has its benefits. And HBR's feature also stated that 72% said they are more likely to accept a job at a company that’s supportive of LGBTQ+ employees.
However, there is still much work to be done. According to research by Stonewall — a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights charity based in the U.K. — LGBTQ+ people still find many businesses aren’t safe spaces.
82% of non-LGBTQ+ consumers across multiple markets say they are more likely to purchase from a company that supports LGBTQ+ equality.
As business leaders and marketers, we shouldn’t wait around when it comes to promoting the transformation of our communities into LGBTQ+ inclusive safe spaces. Here, businesses have the power and the responsibility to make a vital difference. Below, we’ve highlighted organisations setting inspiring examples — with tips on how to be truly LGBTQ+ inclusive.
Visibly celebrate your inclusion efforts within stores and workplaces
The inclusion journey is much more than a Pride exercise, but one month a year, businesses are presented with the perfect opportunity to nail their LGBTQ+ colours to the mast — or the shop window.
Each year, Vodafone rolls out its Pride in a Box — giving local staff the resources and guidelines they need to decorate their stores. In the years since the campaign has been running, more than 70 U.K. branches have taken part.
“We want to show our staff and customers that we’re a safe place to shop and that we wholeheartedly support people in being whoever they want to be,” says Max Taylor, Vodafone’s consumer director.
This activity supports the telecom operator’s wider efforts in creating a more inclusive customer experience and visibly demonstrating support of the LGBTQ+ community. These include removing pronouns from people’s bills and a global buddy programme that offers extra resources about the latest LGBTQ+ initiatives.
Champion inclusivity across all touchpoints
Pride offers the chance for brands to think and act “glocally” — that means shining a light on the business benefits of diversity in a local context, while ensuring your company's global policies put inclusivity and diversity front and centre.
By ensuring your touchpoints are fully inclusive, you’ll help LGBTQ+ customers know you value them and encourage their loyalty.
Whether it’s in-store or online, the mere act of visibly marking your customer touchpoints as LGBTQ+ friendly carries a lot of weight.
“It can’t be underestimated just how important it is for businesses to take real steps to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ customers,” says Emma Kosmin, associate director of workplace client relationships at Stonewall.
“Digital platforms and systems are often the first contact a customer has with an organisation,” says Kosmin. “Whether they’re using a website, sign-up form or making a purchase, it can make or break an LGBTQ+ person’s experience of your service.
“By ensuring your touchpoints are fully inclusive, you’ll help LGBTQ+ customers know you value them and encourage their loyalty.”
Vitally, it also communicates that you are an ally of the community and helps break down and eradicate stigma — something that is vitally important not just during Pride, but all year round.
HSBC U.K. worked with communities to design a simpler and more inclusive process that would meet its customers’ needs when changing name, gender, or title on their accounts. Training was delivered to frontline employees to equip them to deliver these customer services appropriately, while the changes were clearly communicated to customers on the bank’s website.
The opportunity for businesses to make a difference
The work of equality requires many voices, and as marketers we have an unparalleled opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ people.
Business can serve as a major force in LGBTQ+ rights. Show your support during Pride, and help keep the flag flying by creating fully inclusive customer experiences that deliver long after the event is over — you’ll be helping drive positive change and might even find loyal new customers in the process.
3 ways to deliver LGBTQ+ inclusive environments and services
Show your support on Search and Maps
Update your Business Profile on Google to show you’re LGBTQ+ friendly. Whenever people from the community search for their nearest store on Google Search or Maps, a rainbow icon in the listing shows your business is a safe and welcoming space to shop.
Review the inclusivity of your digital touchpoints
Ensure your digital touchpoints, such as your app, your website and your sign-up forms, have been made as inclusive as possible. Asking someone for their gender? Instead of just giving binary options, present the user with an open text box, too.
Make a commitment all year round
Being a passive supporter isn’t enough. By making sure that your commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion is vocal and prominent, you’ll make it clear that people from the community can not only use your business without fear of reproach but can expect sensitive, considerate treatment when they do. And that will build loyalty for your business.
Download this guide to build more LGBTQ+ friendly spaces and experiences in-store and online — produced in partnership with Stonewall and Google.