Celebrating Pride in 2023 has been a fraught, bittersweet experience for the queer community.
In recent memory, Pride has manifested itself through flashy parades and festivals and a proliferation of rainbow-colored logos from various brands. Many of us who attend Pride celebrations as members of the queer community and/or allies have jokingly bemoaned the commercialization of Pride, also known as “Corporate Pride.” We’ve rolled our eyes at banks handing out branded flags to parade goers and poked fun at splashy marketing campaigns disguised as genuine allyship.
But this year has been different.
As hundreds of anti-LGBTQIA+ bills crop up across the country, our very existence as queer and trans people is under fire in what feels like a massive step backwards for tolerance and equality. This wave of legislation has empowered anti-queer individuals and groups to broadcast their discriminatory views in public – an extreme example of this being the recent disruption of a drag queen story hour by a neo-Nazi group in New Hampshire.
Many have called for boycotts of brands that engage in Pride campaigns or feature queer and trans spokespeople, and major retailer Target even removed some Pride-themed merchandise from its annual collection as a result of this backlash. Those of us who once expressed disdain for the commercialization of Pride have now been left wondering: will businesses cease to show support for our community when doing so is no longer considered profitable?
The concept of Corporate Pride has always been somewhat flimsy, because the vast majority of corporate endeavors to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community have been based on selling us things. But new research from Indeed recently revealed that there is a way to do Corporate Pride right, and it starts with identifying means to attract, retain, and protect queer talent.
Indeed surveyed 732 LGBTQIA+ individuals across the United States to determine their satisfaction at work, sentiment around working for companies based in states with anti-queer legislation, and how businesses can best support LGBTQIA+ employees. The study found that there’s a lot of work left to be done: the vast majority of companies have nondiscrimination policies in place (89%), but nearly a quarter (22%) do not enforce these policies.
Employers who want to demonstrate their commitment to uplifting queer staff should take note: while many respondents expressed hesitation to apply for new positions at companies in anti-LGBTQIA+ states, there are a number of actions companies can take to attract queer talent. Respondents argued the following initiatives could persuade them to apply to jobs in less friendly areas:
- 81% would be more likely to apply to companies with inclusive policies that support queer employees, and 43% said they’d hesitate to apply for a job that lacks inclusive language in the job listing
- 81% agreed having LGBTQIA+ employee resource groups fosters a more comfortable work environment for queer employees
- 78% would be more likely to apply if remote work were an option
- 73% of hesitant respondents cited benefits for queer employees (i.e. short-term medical leave and fertility/adoption assistance)
- 40% said a lack of inclusive accommodations in the office like gender-neutral bathrooms and dress codes would give them pause when applying for a job
Just because a business is based in a state pushing anti-queer legislation doesn’t mean it shares the same values. Kickstand is headquartered in Texas, but we pride ourselves (pun intended) on remaining a safe space to work for everyone, especially our most vulnerable populations.
For employers looking to do their part this Pride and in years to come, begin by ensuring your hiring and HR processes reflect your dedication to protecting queer employees. Changing a LinkedIn profile picture to a rainbow logo isn’t enough to demonstrate allyship anymore. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and examine your internal processes to guarantee queer employees can feel safe – and proud – to work for you.