Pride Month can present an opportunity for small businesses to express their values and support LGBTQ+ people. But it’s important to go about it in a genuine way.
Large companies, for example, are sometimes called out for what critics term “rainbow washing” or rolling out campaigns and marketing plays for LGBTQ+ dollars without proving real support for the people behind them.
But there are ways for businesses to help support Pride Month in a way that demonstrates sincere affinity and care for LGBTQ+ people. Commemorating Pride in June can be one place to start, but businesses should make their values clear throughout the year as well.
Here are 4 ways small businesses can meaningfully support Pride Month.
Make your business an affirming place for LGBTQ+ customers at any time, not just during Pride Month. That could mean posting a sign in your window that expresses inclusivity or a Pride flag to let LGBTQ+ people and allies know that they’re safe and welcome inside your doors.
If you have restrooms available for customers, consider making single-occupancy facilities gender inclusive, and post signs that clearly communicate your policy. Talk to your employees about showing kindness and respect to everyone who comes in contact with your business. The more people feel seen and embraced for who they are, the more likely they are to return.
Inclusivity in hiring is another important step to creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people. Companies with more diversity in staffing have proven to outperform their competitors, on top of working toward the principles of fairness and equality. LGBTQ+ employees can bring a variety of perspectives and expertise that can benefit your business in ways you may not even anticipate.
Customers appreciate seeing themselves reflected in your business, both in terms of the values you express and the people they interact with. Diverse hiring doesn’t just benefit business, it also helps a wider array of customers feel connected to your brand.
Pride Month is a good time to raise your flag high. Your marketing should also be inclusive, as a rule, if you want to show genuine support for LGBTQ+ people. Customers are increasingly savvy about recognizing when a Pride Month campaign comes out of nowhere, when marketing materials aren’t reflective of the community the rest of the year.
Consider LGBTQ+ inclusion as you would other metrics of diversity in marketing, and be conscientious about visibility. Incorporate more inclusive images on your social media pages, or partner with local LGBTQ+ businesses on promotions that run outside of Pride Month. Consider how your business can become a recognizable supporter of your local queer community, like sponsoring or showing up to area events.
June is a celebration of resilience and joy for LGBTQ+ people, but also remember that Pride has its origins as a protest movement. Businesses may misstep by too narrowly focusing on the party-fueled aspects of Pride while ignoring the fact that the community is still pushing for equality and essential protections.
Take concrete action by directing donations to organizations on the front lines of securing rights and fighting for LGBTQ+ people. Research local advocacy groups addressing needs specific to queer people in your area. Clover’s Donate app makes it easy to direct funds to local organizations, giving customers the option to round up to the nearest dollar for a donation.
You can also reach out directly to local advocacy groups and ask what their needs are and how best to support them with your business. It could mean asking customers if they’re willing to sign a petition or raising awareness in other ways. That’s the kind of partnership that can make a real impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ people, during Pride Month and beyond.
Be sure to read how Clover helps businesses of all kinds get to know their customers and deepen relationships within their communities.