Pride month is not just about rainbows and fun parades. Pride month is about the people who exist everyday in a world that is not always inclusive. It is about fighting for those marginalized communities whose voices are suppressed in legislation, workplaces, classrooms and communities. It is about showing the beauty and power in diversity and how allies can be a part of efforts towards progress.

There are many brands that have capitalized on the estimated $917 billion buying power of the LGBTQ+ community through various pride month marketing campaigns, but are still unaware of the true issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community (Witek Communications 2016 study). It is imperative for brands to understand that behind the flashes of color, smiles and excitement surrounding pride month, LGBTQ+ communities deal with real issues that are often ignored from violence to discrimination.

In an effort to raise awareness, the National Diversity Council hosts multiple LGBTQ+ summits across the nation from California to Florida during Pride Month. These events bring together leaders from companies such as Wyndham, AT&T and USAA to discuss the importance of inclusion as it pertains to the LGBTQ+ community.

“Increasing changes in our workplace and marketplace make the business case for diversity and inclusion grow stronger as each day passes,” said Dennis Kennedy, the founder and chairman of the board for the National Diversity Council. “We are taking the next step in creating dialogue and driving initiatives to advocate for and create environments in our workplaces and communities where all are valued for their talents and empowered to reach their fullest potential.”

Creating lasting change will require continuing education beyond Pride Month. The Human Rights Campaign reported that sexual orientation ranks as the third-highest motivator for hate crime incidents (17 percent of total attacks). The Williams Institute also reported that 38 percent of LGBTQ+ General Social Survey (GSS) respondents experienced at least one form of discrimination during the five years prior to the administered survey. Specifically, 27 percent of LGBTQ+ employees experienced workplace harassment and 7 percent of  LGBTQ+ employees had lost a job due to discrimination.

Businesses need to be tasked with the necessary tools to ensure that they are implementing sound practices that not only promote inclusion, but understand the landscape of discriminatory practices and issues that employees are faced with in the workplace. The DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program, an initiative of the National Diversity Council, aims to provide leaders with the tools to build an inclusive environment within their organization. This 5-day program educates professionals to create and implement highly successful diversity and inclusion strategies for organizational excellence and a competitive edge in today’s global marketplace. Graduates return to their organization as Certified Diversity Professionals.

In the end, it will take all of us, businesses and individuals, to create lasting change. As you celebrate Pride Month, remember to take your advocacy beyond your local parade. Show your Pride year-round and work every day towards creating inclusive environments where you live and work.  

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