Pride month isn’t all about rainbows and parades. And it’s not just a celebration, either. It’s a time to remember the struggles that LGBTQ+ people have faced in winning acceptance, recognition and respect, as well as the right to marry and have families.
That’s why it’s important for internal communicators to mark the month with meaningful messaging and programming that is inclusive, educational and inspiring.
Here are three ways organizations are celebrating Pride month with their employees:
1. ERG activities
Many organizations use employee resource groups to help specific groups of workers feel included and supported.
ERGs give marginalized groups and allies a chance to have transparent, authentic discussions about social issues and topics related to identity in smaller, more intimate group settings, and can serve as a jumping-off point for events and celebrations related to these groups, like Pride and Black History Month. Giving your LGBTQ+ ERG more support and visibility — or establishing one— is a good step toward marking Pride in a meaningful way.
Pharmaceutical company Aptar announced the formation of its own LGBTQ+ ERG, the Aptar Rainbow Community, this year as part of its Pride month celebration.
“As the executive sponsor for ARC, I will help foster a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment where employees who identify as LGBTQ+ can express their individuality,” Aotar President Gael Touya said in a blog post on the company’s website.
General Electric’s LGBTQ+ group is called the Pride Alliance. GE told Comparably that the group is a safe and discrimination-free environment for LGBTQ+ people and allies to come together and share personal stories about “the everyday struggles people face for merely existing.”
“By providing a strong and supportive community, the Pride Alliance enables individuals to share issues they face and carry out important dialogues around obtaining support for what they need,” GE says.
Boston Consulting Group’s LGBTQ+ ERG, Pride@BCG, helps expand the company’s access to LGBTQ+ talent pools by sponsoring recruiting events around the world. This resulted in the company increasing LGBTQ+ hires by 27% in North America last year.
“When I joined BCG, I got connected to our Pride, Asian Diversity, and Women’s networks quickly,” said Alex Brinas, senior communication designer with BCG. “From the beginning of my time at BCG, I have appreciated being part of Pride@BCG. Within Pride, we created a queer people of color (QPOC) group to build visibility for LGBTQ+ people of color at BCG and beyond, as well as provide a safe space where we can connect and share experiences.”
2. Using employee stories in external messaging
House Wine’s Pride month campaign is centered on a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and is now in its fifth year. The brand says the campaign and its rainbow-colored packaging was conceived by its employees.
A portion of the proceeds from House Wine’s Pride month line will go to HRC “with the goal of building lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equity,” a press release reads.
“What started as a small idea among LGBTQ+ employees and allies became a national success story as the Rainbow Rosé Bubbles is the #1 selling can wine in the country and HOUSE WINE was the first brand awarded the ‘Social Visionary Award’ by Wine Enthusiast in 2021,” the release says.
East coast commercial airline Cape Air this year unveiled a Pride-themed Cessna plane, complete with a rainbow-colored tail and the word “pride” painted on the wings and underside.
The company’s marketing manager, Ryan Stanton, told the Provincetown Banner that the credit for the idea goes to Cape Air employees.
“They got themselves together and decided to make it an employee-based contest thing to paint a plane,” he said. “We put it to the whole company with a couple of different options,” he said.
Following the idea’s conception, Cape Air used a company-wide survey to let employees choose the final design, which will remained painted on the plane indefinitely.
And Cape Air CEO and President Linda Markham made sure to note that the initiative wasn’t one of “pridewashing.”
“Putting a Pride flag not only on the wings, but on the tail of the plane means so much to us because were such a diverse organization and we really want to celebrate inclusivity and equality,” Markham said.
Working with your external comms or PR team to repurpose employee stories as external messaging can be good for both employee engagement and brand perception, especially if it’s also backed by real-world action and not just rainbows.
3. Events and get-togethers
Food delivery service DoorDash is working with its LGBTQ+ ERG to put on several Pride month events for employees, including a trivia event, remote drag bingo hosted by drag queen Astala Vista, a movie night celebration and a panel discussion featuring three DoorDash merchants who identify as LGBTQ+.
Additionally, three DoorDash office locations across the country will host used clothing drives and donate the clothes to local LGBTQ+ organizations.
Gainwell Technologies is welcoming Greg Bourke, a plaintiff in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, to one of its virtual Pride month events.
And Emory University will host an intersectional Pride celebration at the end of June, in which students, staff and faculty are encouraged to eat, play games and participate in giveaways. Other campus organizations, like the I Am Human Foundation and the Southern Jewish Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, will be in attendance. The university’s emphasis on an intersectional Pride celebration means the event is inclusive to more than just those who identify as LGBTQ+, or people who have other sexual, ethnic and cultural identities.
“It’s a celebration of everything that has happened historically for the community and an opportunity to be visible in the heart of Emory with rainbows everywhere,” said Adam Malm, chair of Emory ERG Emory Pride Employee Network.
Many organizations, like California hospital giant Cedars-Sinai, sponsor employees to march in local Pride parades.
“More than 200 Cedars-Sinai employees, family members and friends will be marching in the inaugural WeHo Pride Parade under the Cedars-Sinai banner, showing our own #CedarsPride and support for the LGBTQ+ community,” Cedars wrote in a press release.
However you choose to mark Pride, be sure to work in tandem with your employees to ensure a safe, informative and respectful celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.