Being the Change: How the PR industry can champion LGBTQ+ rights
Updated: Jan 30
Pride means something different for everyone. But whether you’re queer or an ally, LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated as a way to create awareness, show support and promote inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community. PR, media and advertising industries play a huge role in shaping how people think. They can support the LGBTQ+ movement by taking a firm stand against discrimination and bias at work, while also demonstrating inclusivity in communication campaigns.
What role does PR play in LGBTQ+ awareness?
Quite a large one actually! PR professionals communicate daily with their audience and have the power to increase understanding, change perceptions and challenge negative stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community at work. If they don’t become more diverse and inclusive themselves, it becomes nearly impossible to create campaigns that represent these values. Although the law currently supports the LGBTQ+ community, there is a clear difference between decriminalization and true equality. This is where the media can step in to bridge the gap and set an example for the industry!
Walking the Talk is Key
The PR industry can drive value at a higher level for brands by practicing what they preach. When it comes to making workplaces more inclusive, it is important to consider multiple factors that impact the LGBTQ+ community. Inclusive perks and policies to cover the LGBTQ+ employees and their partners, respecting people’s choice of pronoun for themselves, strict no-discrimination policies, gender sensitization to encompass issues faced not only by women but also by gender non-conforming individuals can then result in a workforce that is capable of communicating inclusively to their audience. This will thereby normalize conversation around LGBTQ+ issues and rights.
In an increasingly interconnected world, cultural contact through the media industry can shape opinions, values and attitudes. Taking the first step towards creating a more equal workplace is the most important step of all.
As a way forward, the PR industry needs to do their part by setting up LGBTQ+ sensitization training at work, advocating for LGBTQ+ fairness and building employee resource groups within the community. Simply put, having workshops and trainings will empower LGBTQ+ voices, add much-needed authenticity and provide valuable inputs on how the media can drive change through their campaigns.
During a sensitization training, there is nothing more genuine than reading stories that are backed with real-life experiences. The PR industry can incorporate these learnings and communicate effectively with their LGBTQ+ audience by helping them tell their stories.
While doing this, it is important to support the community and speak up for them and not over them.
Using The Right Pronouns
Inclusive communication is the focal point for the media to reach out to diverse audiences, as well as within their own workforce. Enabling conversation about people’s gender pronouns is important and helps people talk about why it is important to first ask and then correctly use gender pronouns at work. A simple way to do this is by adding gender pronouns to email signatures to be more inclusive.
Portraying Same-Sex Couples In The Media
Everybody wants to be seen and heard. The PR industry can engage LGBTQ+ consumers by balancing LGBTQ+ content and the brand message in a way that demonstrates an authentic link between the two. When same-sex couples are portrayed in the media, it not only creates awareness but also promotes a strong affinity between the brand and LGBTQ+ consumers.
Demonstrating Pride Across Borders
Subaru is classic example of a global brand that demonstrated its long-term commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. They got a few things absolutely spot on by depicting “real, everyday” LGBTQ+ consumers in realistic situations and connected, using LGBTQ+ symbols in their advertising and demonstrating a strong connection between LGBTQ+ concerns and the brand values.
A little closer to home, LGBTQ+ employees at Accenture can share their journeys on a virtual platform and answer questions from allies to educate them better on the LGBTQ+ experience. Additionally, Sodexo not only runs a campaign against homophobia at work, but actively hiring transgender employees and has ‘transgender guides’ to help managers understand basic terminology.
Since 2017, Nishant Agarwal, chief operating officer at Periferry, a start-up that exclusively provide trans talent to companies has placed 125 people since its inception!
Encouraging employees to partake in the annual Pride March shows a sense of solidarity while also normalizing the conversation around gender and sexuality.
Although cultural adaption at work still needs to cover some ground, the media has a responsibility to use their voice and bring about a change within the industry regarding LGBTQ+ visibility!