Why covering everything in rainbows for Pride doesn’t make you a supportive retailer

Pride month is almost here and encase you’ve been living under a rock you’ll notice most retailers have injected a little more colour into their displays. Rainbows are now everywhere so big brands can show their support and let the world know they are a supportive retailer 🌈.

Is it all as it seems?

Whilst it is great that they are supporting LGBT Pride Month. That can be just the problem, they are only supporting the month of Pride. It can be seen as exploitation, shallow and insincere when their internal processes or procedures don’t fully support LGBT causes. It can also spark rage in people when it appears to be an unimaginative distasteful marketing attempt. Many see as piggy backing off the success of the event to earn themselves some more cash.

An LGBT Sandwich divided opinion

Marks and Spencers LGBT sandwich for example, divided opinion as many saw a sandwich devoted to the community as offensive and bizarre. Whilst others saw the lighter side and couldn’t ignore the fact that the retailer had donated £10,000 to the Albert Kennedy Trust. A charity dedicated to helping homeless LGBT+ youth.

Do their internal processes match up to their support of the LGBT community which they present on the exterior?

Of course, when these big brands wave the rainbow flag high and they promote an LGBT inclusive culture at work then there isn’t a problem. But when they don’t, it leaves a bitter taste in people’s mouth because they aren’t genuinely a supportive retailer.

The Stonewall Workplace Equality Index is now the UK’s tool for highlighting the top LGBT supportive employers. They understand that the best employers understand the need to take inclusivity seriously . They look at 10 areas of employment policy and practice, and they also get staff to complete an anonymous survey. The Index was launched in 2005 and what’s interesting to see is that no retailer has ever won the top spot in 14 years! This year for 2019 not one food or fashion retailer even made the entire list. That’s incredibly disappointing we are sure you’ll agree.

2005 – British Council

2006 – Staffordshire Police

2007 – IBM

2008 – Nacro

2009 – Lloyds TSB

2010 – IBM

2011 – Home Office

2012 – Ernst & Young

2013 – Accenture

2014 – Gentoo

2015 – Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

2016 – MI5

2017 – Lloyds Banking Group

2018 – National Assembly for Wales

2019 – Pinsent Masons

So how can you become a retailer who actually supports LGBT equality?

1. Offer the same benefits to everyone in the business regardless of their gender. Things like maternity leave, flexi-time for childcare and adoption leave should be open to everyone.

2. Provide healthcare benefits that support medical transitioning to trans staff. 

3. Create strong anti-discrimination policies and make sure you properly enforce them. Take serious action when people breach the policies to let everyone know that you will not tolerate discriminative behaviour. Talk about it when recruiting new staff to ensure that you create a culture of inclusion.

4. Give employees information about local events, sponsor and volunteer at LGBT events. Invite guest speakers to come to your workplace to share their experiences. Create networking groups and get senior level staff to champion your inclusive culture message to everyone in the business.

5. Ensure everyone is trained and educated about your inclusion policies, your inclusive culture and the way that you support LGBT employees. Most importantly make sure everyone is acting in adherence to your policies and embodying your culture by carrying out regular employee reviews.

For more information on how you can support your LGBT employees visit The Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. It’s time to practice what you preach, become a truly supportive retailer and really make a difference in the community! Happy Pride 🙌 💕 🌈

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 16th July 2019