Why your company needs to act on your Pride ALL YEAR LONG.
Written by: Paul Rivait
LOVE IS LOVE! BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE! LIVE YOUR PRIDE!
Those are some examples of the taglines in commercials you’re likely to see starting June 1st. Companies across the globe will begin putting up rainbow logos and collaborating with drag queens and 2SLGBTQIA+ influencers for Pride Month. They’ll shout from the rooftops about their commitments to ‘standing in solidarity with marginalized communities, everywhere’.
But, before you buy their rainbow-washed whatevers, ask yourself this:
Where the hell have they been over the last year?
The world has watched in horror as ultra-conservative celebrities have shot guns at their Bud Light because the company deigned to treat a transgender influencer like any other human being. We’ve heard from politicians and activists about how reading to children in a colorful costume is more dangerous than walking into a school with an assault weapon; who bemoan when a restaurant presents a drag show at brunch but stay silent when the rights of Indigenous land or women’s reproductive health are trampled. And, most recently, we’ve watched as employees at stores like Target have been violently and verbally attacked because one of the company’s clothing designers is from the queer community and designed a bathing suit that might help transgender people feel a bit better about themselves at the beach.
BOWING DOWN TO BIGOTS IS A BAD MOVE.
Sadly, bigots are everywhere. This article is not about them. They get enough attention as it is.
This article is to remind us all that we can only squash out hate and oppression by sticking together and not bowing down to the anger of the few. When Bud Light saw pushback on their one-off influencer post, their CEO, Brendan Whitworth, released a statement saying that they, “…never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.” To clarify, Whitworth added, “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.” They also released a new ad featuring what appears to be an ‘all-American horse’.
The problem with that statement—and nonsensical horse video—is that it actually gives in to the hate-filled crowd who can’t understand that people who don’t look like them might also enjoy a beer. That’s not ‘Celebrating Everybody’s Identity’, as their Pride webpage claimed they do. That’s erasing an entire group of people because a handful of Twitter bots got a case of the sads.
Target, too, caved in when challenged. They pulled some of the aforementioned clothing line from a handful of stores in the U.S., where the violent threats were being received, instead of, you know, removing the violent threats by reporting the illegal actions to law enforcement. What’s worse is that Target’s Pride website claims that “Being true to yourself and your community is something to celebrate, all year long.” Apparently, not so, if the ‘anti-woke’ brigade doesn’t like your t-shirt.
Look, we get it. Being a responsible corporate citizen is hard. Companies want to please everyone, everywhere, to make as much money as possible for shareholders and board members. That’s capitalism. But here’s the big, big secret: companies who DO make a commitment on issues like human rights and climate change and so much more, and then DO actually act on those issues (and stick to it without backing down), actually make more money.
So, if you’re truly going to call your company an ‘ally’—to any community—make sure you’re doing it for more than one month out of the year. It’s possible you’ll get some pushback. That’s often what happens when you try to make the world a more equitable place. But there is strength in numbers and marginalized communities need your strength more than just once a year. Stop backing down and start joining the movement. Every. Single. Day.
You’re either in the fight for equality, or you’re not.
Paul Rivait is Director of Creative Impact at Public Inc. and a proud member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.