June 12, 2019
…And that’s coming from a gay Ologist with a sun tattoo.
But during a month when companies swap their usual profile pictures for rainbow versions, it’s important to remember the power of authenticity. And as growing swarms of consumers use their dollars to vote for the causes they’re passionate about, it’s not only crucial to the ethical standing of your organization, but to your profitability, too. Rainbow-izing your logo or wishing your Instagram followers a “happy Pride Month” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Because underneath the unicorn-encrusted façade, there has to be some substance. There should be proof that your hiring practices include nondiscrimination clauses for LGBTQ+ people. There should be proceeds donated to causes that support the lives of queer people. There should be a commitment to inclusion that’s woven into the fabric of your company’s culture.
Here are a few brands we’re inspired by this Pride Month. These brands are putting their philanthropic efforts where their rainbows are. And they’re making us proud.
Lush’s Trans Rights Campaign
Lush launched its Trans Rights Campaign in 2018 with a dual mission: tell the stories of transgender and non-binary people to create awareness, and create a product to benefit national causes working for trans rights. The campaign grew out of requests from Lush’s staff members, after they learned about the high rates of discrimination faced by the trans community. Even more impressive is the work the company did internally to create better experiences for its trans employees and customers. It’s all an incredible example of what an empowered staff can make happen.
Key takeaway: By focusing on one of the most underserved populations in the LGBTQ+ community, Lush not only took a striking stand, but made a significant impact.
Madewell’s “Do Well” Campaign
Madewell is a great example of what it looks like to do more than put a rainbow on a T-shirt. Half of the retail price from sales of the company’s pride gear goes to the Human Rights Campaign (the country’s biggest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization). But this is just a small part of Madewell’s greater social commitment. Madewell continues to ensure that its women workers receive equal pay and equal rights, that its factories are fair trade certified, and that its associates remain committed to making a difference in their communities.
Key takeaway: Madewell’s customers know that its intentions are authentic, because its efforts touch every level of the company, have an impact internally and externally, and continue throughout all 365 days of the year.
Jeni’s Nina West Collection
Two Columbus powerhouses — Jeni Britton Bauer, the founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Nina West, beloved contestant on this season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race — teamed up to sell a collection of ice creams benefiting the Nina West Foundation. (Jeni’s also invited Nina to design her own limited-edition signature flavor.) The drag queen’s charity has raised millions to support LGBTQ+ organizations, and partnering with Jeni’s makes the entire effort that much sweeter.
Key takeaway: In partnering with a nonprofit, many brands will clear off a small corner of their marketing real estate. But Jeni’s was willing to step back and give Nina the mic — and a bigger platform for her mission. That’s true commitment to the cause.
Header photo courtesy of Cecilie Johnsen via Unsplash.