by | Jun 7, 2024

This June, Target is among the 30 percent of consumer brands adjusting their Pride month strategies in response to a wave of backlash last summer. Companies dialing back the amount of rainbow items in their stores with the intention of finding a middle ground can send an unclear message to not only consumers, but their employees.

It’s easy to get swept up in the culture wars and forget the true purpose of Pride month. Before companies began selling rainbow mugs and t-shirts, Pride was a protest led by black and brown trans women like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. With that in mind, how can companies protect their bottom line while ensuring their LGBTQ+ employees are feeling supported?

Leadership can move the target

With the backlash toward Pride in retail locations last year, frontline workers were put in harm’s way as people who opposed Pride destroyed displays in stores and threatened store employees. While shifting attention away from store employees by reducing Pride’s in-store presence can be helpful, this is the time to support LGBTQ+ employees in other public forums. Being vocal with public podcasts, videos and in-person events like Pride parades and festivities (especially if the company ventures beyond the corporate float) will show employees that they genuinely matter.

Keep communication open

When policy changes this significant are happening, employees should be told directly — not through an article or social media post. Keeping employees in the dark about such a public decision can make them feel abandoned and unsure. LGBTQ+ employees and allies will feel betrayed when you don’t speak up in favor of them. Employees who hold intolerant views are still going to be upset. Company communications should reaffirm support for the LGBTQ+ community isn’t dictated by the ebb and flow of public opinion.

Make employees aware of your LGBTQ+ specific initiatives and ERGs

Now is the time to advertise all the tangible ways your company is supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Highlight employee resource groups to make sure they know a safe space is available to them. Curate events and experiences during the workday that educate your team. Maybe facilitate some volunteering opportunities that provide employees and managers the opportunity to serve the LGBT+ community. This is the time to make intentional decisions that align with your company’s values.

Communicating change to your employees? Tribe can help.

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