How can startups, with limited budget and resources, show their support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month and beyond?
I’ve found it important to get involved in Pride month; there’s always a need for spaces where people can improve visibility and celebrate individuality, especially if it’s dedicated towards something that isn’t typically part of the status quo.
However, this can be a challenge for leadership teams in early-stage businesses - most startups don’t have the budget for big, Pride-related events. Neither do they yet have the policies in place that address inclusivity. How can smaller businesses show support without appearing insincere? Here are my thoughts on sincere allyship during Pride.
Companies often spend a lot of money and resource on Pride-related celebrations - but if the healthcare your business provides to your employees doesn’t offer financial support to trans people who want to transition, for example, then your resource is misplaced. It’s always useful to assess how the changes you make have a valuable impact in the long term. For example, does your parental leave expressly offer equal benefits to all types of families, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity? Is your statement on diversity and inclusion available on the business' careers page? Startups can show support by reviewing the policies they do have, and ensuring inclusion is at the heart of everything they create and develop.
At Juro, we focused on smaller events internally that would allow us to celebrate with our colleagues and educate others on the history behind Pride month:
Make sure that changing your logo isn’t the most you’re willing to do to support communities during Pride - there’s no 'back to normal' once June is over
Pride month acts as an annual reminder of how you can (and should) support LGBTQ+ communities, but startups can find themselves at risk of “rainbow-washing” during this month - in June, branding changes to accommodate Pride colours, and in July, everything goes back to normal with no lasting impact of support and visibility. Make sure that changing your logo isn’t the most you’re willing to do to support communities during Pride - there’s no “back to normal” once June is over.
I’ve initiated events at both large corporations like Bosch, and smaller companies such as Algolia, Paddle, and now Juro. There are several benefits to allyship at a smaller business:
You don’t need budget for a giant float at Pride parade - instead, leadership teams can think about the changes internally that will have an impact in the long term
Showing support at a startup isn’t without its challenges:
Early-stage startups have the benefits of showing allyship in smaller but more meaningful gestures. You don’t need the budget and resource for a giant float at Pride parade - instead, leadership teams can think about the changes internally that will have an impact in the long term. Here's a great article on how small businesses can pull on resources available to show support.
Do you have diversity and inclusion policies in place? Do these policies include details about the kind of language and behaviour that is unacceptable? When hiring, are you reaching out to communities that are going to make your workforce more diverse? Are you ensuring that the candidates in your pipeline are representative of the world we live in? Are your employees comfortable enough to initiate and engage in Pride-related events - and more importantly, whose support can they count on for logistics and planning if they'd like to organize something but don't know where to start?
These changes don’t cost anything, but omitting them speaks a far louder message. As an early-stage startup, you have the power to focus on improving the “boring stuff” to accommodate unprivileged communities and foster a positive environment for the LGBTQ+ community - and in the long term, those changes show the greatest form of support.
Thomas is head of people and talent at Juro. He can be found on LinkedIn.