Senior director of the Global LGBTQ+ Equality Program, creative content and partnerships at Procter & Gamble
Pride Month can be the starting point for retail industry to enter into a long-term relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.
For more than 50 years, Pride Month has brought millions of people together to feel proud of who they are and commemorate those who fought for LGBTQ+ rights. It’s also a time to raise visibility of this community and to generate funds and support that last year-round.
But Pride Month 2020 was different. The LGBTQ+ community faced loss of livelihoods, lack of access to life-affirming health care, and increased domestic violence and social isolation with the closure of local community services. Annual events were canceled, further damaging the fundraising efforts that sustain LGBTQ+ organizations.
Born during video calls at my dining room table and brought to life through the hard work and passion of many, “Can’t Cancel Pride: A COVID-19 Relief Benefit for the LGBTQ+ Community” aired virtually on June 25, 2020, raising more than $4 million in support of six LGBTQ+ organizations: GLAAD, SAGE, National Black Justice Coalition, The Trevor Project, CenterLink and OutRight Action International. Hosted by Elvis Duran and Laverne Cox, it brought together celebrities such as Billy Porter, Adam Lambert, Melissa Etheridge, Sia, Ricky Martin, Carla Morrison and Katy Perry, with performances inspired by the colors found on the rainbow flag.
A year later, we aren’t out of the woods yet, and the retail industry has an opportunity to create a tremendous impact. But our actions must be sustained, strategic and part of a larger commitment.
For “Can’t Cancel Pride 2021,” we are bringing on more retail customers to increase program reach. This includes getting retailers involved earlier to help them plan their Pride activities and help more fully engage people within the LGBTQ+ community. This is encouraging not only for the organizations that will benefit, but also for the LGBTQ+ employees at these retailers. As noted by McKinsey & Co., sponsoring LGBTQ+ events and making public financial commitments to this community are key steps to creating a more comfortable workplace for LGBTQ+ employees.
These partnerships aren’t only the right thing to do, but are also good business: more than 40% of LGBTQ+ shoppers would switch from a retailer that’s not committed to inclusion and diversity, according to Accenture. Additionally, 40% of consumers seek products and brands that align with their values and lifestyle, IBM and the National Retail Federation have found. The result is that shoppers are more likely to frequent retailers that offer brands and products to address their diverse needs, as Accenture discovered. Similarly, when companies like P&G make these types of efforts, we grow consumer affinity among our own brands, and in turn drive traffic and sales for our retail customers.
Our efforts also extend into advertising: P&G has been on the forefront of LGBTQ+-inclusive marketing. Studies show that among LGBTQ consumers, 78% support companies that market to this community, and more than two-thirds of non-LGBTQ+ consumers feel better about buying from inclusive marketers. This benefits each point of the shopper journey: our end consumers, our retail customers and our own business.
P&G has created campaigns ranging from Gillette’s First Shave, showcasing a transgender man shaving for the first time, to Pantene’s Power to Transform, which redefines what ‘beautiful’ looks like in today’s world by featuring a variety of people within the LGBTQ+ community and their own unique stories of transformation. This year, in partnership with GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, we’re committing $1 million to The Visibility Project, focused on increasing LGBTQ+ visibility in advertising. Also, this month, “Coded” – a documentary that P&G co-produced about LGBTQ+ representation in advertising – will debut at the TriBeCa Film Festival.
Pride Month can be the starting point for our industry to enter into a long-term relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. In doing so, we can find ways to join forces and use our unique voices for greater impact that extends year-round.