With June now in the rear view, most of corporate America is moving on from Pride Month and its many public (and sometimes cringe-worthy) expressions of support for LGBTQ+ employees and customers.
This post isn’t meant to be a takedown of “rainbow capitalism,” or highlight brands embracing the LGBTQ+ community most effectively—there are plenty of both online for the reading. Instead, consider this a friendly, post-Pride reminder that embracing and celebrating diverse groups is good for business and society the other 11 months of the year, too.
America's growing diversity
The fact is that America is growing more diverse each year. Consider these statistics:
- Nearly four in 10 Americans now identify with a race or ethnic group other than white, while more than half the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority in 2019. (Brookings)
- Hispanics now represent the largest minority in the United States, at 60.5 million people, up from 35.6 million in 2000. (Statistica)
- 5.6% of Americans now identify as LGBTQ+, representing almost 20 million people. (Gallup)
- 61 million adults in the U.S. live with a disability, or one in four. (CDC)
Your audience is growing more diverse, and expecting marketing messages that resonate with their lives. The keys to doing it well are empathy and authenticity.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It requires active listening and putting yourself in another’s shoes.
According to organizational guru Gale Mote, “Empathy is a core skill for building sound relationships, both personally and professionally.” It allows us to see how others think and feel about a topic, and “put that understanding into the right words at the right time,” ultimately building trust and connection.
We also know that strong relationships are a foundational element of positive brand perceptions. As we’ve previously written, customers are continuously evaluating and revising their view of your brand based on the experiences they have with it. If they trust your brand and feel valued by it, they will reward it with long-term loyalty.
This part can be hard for brands that are used to broadcasting messages and being in the mix, because it really requires listening. If you want to shout out LGBTQ+ employees or customers in June, make sure you’re hearing and understanding their experiences throughout the rest of the year.
There’s no shortcut or 5-point list to empathy. It requires spending time where your audience is to truly understand their world, hearing their concerns and experiences, and continually evaluating your messaging.
Ask yourself (and focus groups, if possible):
- Who is missing from this message or marketing campaign? Why?
- Do these communities see our brand as theirs? Do they identify with our story?
- How can we include diverse voices and perspectives in our next campaign?
- How do we make sure it’s authentic and not stereotypical (or worse yet, offensive)?
Authenticity is defined as something genuine and reliable. It’s tied to your brand values and speaking out for what you believe in, “even if it’s not what others want to hear,” according to psychologist and author Stephen Joseph.
What does your brand believe is important? What causes do your employees naturally support or gravitate to?
Here at Informatics, our team prides itself on being an inclusive, welcoming place to work. It’s part of one of our values, People First, we share as a team. We celebrate our diversity and actively work to create inclusive marketing messages for our clients.
In the case of the LGBTQ+ community, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis recently told CNN that companies need to do “meaningful structural work before they come to the table waving a rainbow flag.”
“You cannot just market to our community," she said. “You have to join the movement, and that's a social justice movement. You need to speak out when there is bad legislation, especially when you have outsized influence.”
The lesson here is to get involved and support causes and communities you support company-wide. Explore how those causes tie into your own corporate values, and tap into connections when planning targeted messaging. The result will feel much more authentic and heartfelt, in turn building long-term loyalty with your customers.
If you need help designing an authentic marketing strategy, or just have questions about building your brand, reach out to the experts at Informatics today. We'll help create a message you and your employees will be proud to share.