5 Approaches to Doing Pride Right (Next Time)

June 1st, 2023 | Darren McAlmont, Manager, Communications & Content, Association of Canadian Advertisers

Image of pride flags | Photo Credit: CanvaWith a poverty rate >40% in Canada, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community needs more than rainbow flags on buildings and on social media from multi-million-dollar corporations.

It’s June – the official start of Pride month – although our reader needed no reminder. Weeks leading up to the start of June, rainbow flags and paintings adorn the outside walls of many major corporations. This is also the time when we are systematically inundated with lots of 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive ads of pride-themed merch. Now, it’s not worthwhile discussing rainbow packaging because it is likely that no amount of advocacy will stop the pinkwashing around this time, every year.
Instead, let’s focus on how corporations can do better at supporting the community they purport to support. To better understand the need for support, you must first understand the challenges of the community.

Here are two poignant facts to consider when rolling out your Pride month campaign: 1) hate crimes targeting 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians are on the rise; 2) people who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ also have lower average annual incomes than non-2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians — $39,000 versus $54,000.

With this in mind, here are five approaches to doing pride right (next year):

  1. Create an inclusive marketing and advertising plan: It should go without saying that your marketing and advertising plan should be inclusive of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community all year round. If your brand doesn’t have a 365-day-a-year plan, then you might want to consider the possibility that your company isn’t doing enough.
  2. Use your influence to affect change: Your marketing and advertising plan needs to go beyond inclusive ads; leverage your brand’s reputation and influence to take a stance and speak out against anti-2SLGBTQIA+ legislation.
  3. Donate proceeds to the community: Pride-themed merchandise functions to commodify 2SLGBTQIA+ identities, so when your company benefits, it only makes sense that the community you profit from should receive majority of the proceeds. Here’s a list of six brands that are giving back all of their Pride Collection proceeds to 2SLGBTQIA+ groups. Will your brand be next?
  4. Support transformative community programs: While it is okay to endorse well-established philanthropic ventures, it is very important to support the lesser-known community interventions that offer transformative aid. Supporting lesser-known philanthropic efforts might require a bit more homework on your company’s part, but doing this is an opportunity for your company to demonstrate – in part – that it is not a participant of rainbow capitalism or performative allyship.
  5. Be fair and inclusive when hiring: When more than 40% of the community lives in poverty, together with the fact that they are underpaid compared to their non-2SLGBTQIA+ counterparts, it means that your brand has an opportunity to help reduce the number of persons in the community who live in poverty.

So, what to do next? The answer is simple: challenge your company to go beyond just selling products and critically think about how the profits (in part or whole) from those same products can benefit the community(ies) it is profiting from.

Darren McAlmont headshotDarren McAlmont, Manager, Communications & Content, Association of Canadian Advertisers

Darren is an award-winning writer who focuses his work primarily on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. His writings have often trended on social media and have been picked up and reposted by respected figures doing DEI work. Darren holds a master’s degree in Rhetoric and Communication Design from the University of Waterloo and a bachelor’s degree in English and Professional Writing from York University.