Hey corporates…now the Mardi Gras glitter has settled, we need to talk.

I’m a big believer in the benefit of organisations supporting their LGBTIQ+ employees, customers and visibly showing support the rainbow community. I’ve seen the impact it has on engagement and when done well, it has the power to create meaningful experiences and shape change. I’m 100% here for that!

I’ve also seen the impact of the corporate glitter being sprinkled in the wrong places.

So, to the leaders of all the corporates who joined us at Mardi Gras, here’s some questions to ask yourselves as you shake off your branded rainbow costumes.

1. Are our activations popping up in regional and remote areas when the TV screens aren’t rolling?

From Busselton Pride to Broken Heel Festival, check your options. I appreciate there needs to be alignment with the areas in which you operate however there are usually local festivals on the fringes of the CBD in addition to rural options.

2. Have we invested in a systemic review to identify and remediate gaps in policy, systems and practice across experiences by LGBTIQ+ employees and customers?

Do your job application forms ask candidates for their gender and only provide the options of male and female? If I check into your hotel, will I be asked if my husband needs a key when I’m standing next to my wife? If I bank with you, will you use my pronouns correctly?

3. Are our efforts unintentionally compromising the work of charities and community groups?

I’m not suggesting this is at all intended but please consider that your budgets are often much larger than the community stalls around you. When you give out free t-shirts, water bottles and rainbow goodies, you are de-valuing the merchandise that other groups are selling as a core fundraising stream. If you get a pride bottle for free, why pay $10 for one at the grass roots stall next door?

4. Are our LGBTIQ+ employees and allies involved in the design and execution of activations?

If you have a pride network, engage their voices early. Don’t simply expect them to be your stall volunteers (albeit often fun, it’s still work) if you haven’t asked for their input on your concept and activation.

5. Are we supporting and investing in our employee pride networks?

As the rainbow flags go into the storage cupboard until the next event, consider how much support you are truly giving your committees and networks. Not everyone wants to march in a parade and not everyone gets to attend. Does your network have a coach to support their progress? These groups do vital work and often feel under-supported and underinvested in and that needs to change.

6. Are we actively supporting grass roots LGBTIQ+ charities with pro-bono support, fundraising and grants?

There are many ways to spend your budgets via partnerships, sponsorships and offering skilled volunteers for grass roots projects. Employees often want to create meaningful change. Who knows, drafting an annual report for a volunteer-led organisation might spark as much joy as Mardi Gras for someone! 

7. Are we silent or vocal on matters facing the LGBTIQ+ community?

If you are passive, you are silent. Discuss these topics in your board rooms and exec meetings. Take a stand, share your voice and support us when we need you most.

For our corporate friends, It’s simply a matter of boundaries. Of course, It’s ok to march with us at Mardi Gras but it’s not ok to turn your back when we need your power and influence on things like the religious discrimination bill.

Cover Image: Supplied by Author

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse and has been republished here with permission.

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