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9:45am - 11:00am
The Westin Copley
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3:00pm - 5:00pm
Another Age Productions
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4:30pm - 8:00pm
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
Expand your DEI professional development with a virtual workshop focused specifically on LGBTQIA+ identities and inclusion.
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We are developing an ecosystem of corporations and partners with the influence and buying power to transform economic inclusion for minority business enterprises (MBEs).
The Fierce Urgency of Now Festival brings Boston’s diverse young professionals together with business leaders, organizations and their peers to build connection, advance careers and ignite positive change.
BIMA (the Boston Interactive Media Association) serves a vibrant community of like-minded professionals from agencies, brands, publishers, and ad-tech companies with business interests in the New England market.
For nearly 30 years, the Chamber’s Women’s Network has connected female professionals of all background and career levels. Today, our Women’s Network is the largest in New England, strengthening the professional networks of women each year.
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Performative actions are nothing new, but this Pride Month major brands made national headlines because of rainbow-washing.
Like green- or eco-washing, rainbow-washing occurs when a company demonstrates LGBTQ+ inclusion – such as making their logo rainbow on social media – without substantial actions in support of the queer community. This month, Target, Bud Light, and the Los Angeles Dodgers each launched exciting campaigns that aligned themselves with the LGBTQ+ community. However, when they were met with homophobia and transphobia alongside praise and excitement, they decided to pull affirming products from the shelves and distance themselves from trans spokespeople and drag performers. They were left with angry customers on all sides.
I could spend this article dissecting what each company did wrong, how they should have been prepared, and judge their public relations response. However, I’d prefer to be proactive. How can your company, and you as an individual, ensure that you are thinking about LGBTQ+ inclusion year-round and keep the momentum going long after Pride Month ends?
1. Set a new standard. With 20% of all Generation Z (born approximately between 1995 and 2012) identifying as LGBTQ+, according to a 2022 Gallup poll, it is clear that queer inclusion is only becoming more important. We are not going anywhere. It is important that regardless of your role in an organization but especially for those in senior leadership, you set an expectation of inclusion for LGBTQ+ people. This includes simple actions, like putting your pronouns in your email address or Zoom name. It also means actively introducing yourself verbally with your pronouns, even if you are the only one doing it. Nothing makes me happier than when someone has written their pronouns in Sharpie on their nametag because they weren’t printed that way (but let’s always try to put them, okay?). Set the standard of using the right pronouns, not gossiping about someone’s gender or sexuality, and shutting down homophobic or transphobic “jokes” in the break room or the board room.
2. Understand and leverage your privilege for good. We all live with privilege. As a White, able-bodied, native English-speaker from an upper-middle class family with a Master’s Degree, I live with an awful lot of privilege. However, as a genderqueer, socialized female, neurodivergent, plus-size person, there are other challenges I encounter. Think about the privilege you hold in your life or organization, and how you can leverage that. Can you advocate for a budget for an LGBTQ+ ERG? Can you update language on the website or a form? Can you reiterate the point of a queer person that is spoken over in a meeting? Can you speak up against a homophobic or transphobic policy? The LGBTQ+ community doesn’t need you to save us, but we do need partners and advocates in our corner. Speak up for us when we aren’t in the room, make space for us in the room (even if that means you give up your seat), and ensure others are listening. At an organizational level, consider your brand or company’s power, influence, and resources. Think about how you can advocate for new industry-wide standards of inclusion, combat anti-LGBT+ legislation, and make transformative philanthropic investments (even without a press release) because not only does it make good business sense, it’s 2023 and it’s the right thing to do.
3. Invest in LGBTQ+ talent. While LGBTQ+ people have many legal protections in the workplace, many of us have experienced consistent microaggressions at best or blatant discrimination at worst in different work environments. While you may have an anti-discrimination statement on your website, are you actively seeking out queer candidates? Consider participating in a job fair with the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, or posting job opportunities with local LGBTQ+ organizations. When we have the opportunity to meet and engage with folx from your company, especially other queer folx, we can better gauge how affirming your organization will be for us. This investment also extends to professional development opportunities, such as encouraging us to go to LGBTQ+ professional networking events, just as you might encourage us to go to a Chamber event. Also, consider a diversity supplier program to prioritize vendors who are LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled, veterans, and from other traditionally underrepresented communities.
4. Always consider representation. Over 65% of LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ individuals report that they would like to see more LGBTQ+ representation in marketing, according to a 2022 study from WPP. This is astounding because generally people don’t want any kind of marketing or advertising! The study further showcased that people of all genders and sexualities want to see more representation in all kinds of media. Queer people are part of many people’s lives that it feels strange when we aren’t there. Think about how you can authentically tell the stories of LGBTQ+ staff or customers in your communications, both internal and external. Remember that not every queer person wants to share their story, nor should you exploit their story solely for profit. Consult resources, such as an ERG, or release a public request for stories, so folx are self-selecting involvement. Also, look to historical and contemporary LGBTQ+ figures that have made an impact on your industry or society at large that you can celebrate. When representation is partnered with other affirming actions, it becomes additive to authentic inclusion, rather than performative.
5. Stay informed. On an individual level, one of the most important things you can do is remain educated on LGBTQ+ issues. This includes best practices for workplace inclusion, and legislation affecting queer people locally and nationally. Find reputable news sources, like The Advocate or National LGBTQ Task Force, to add to your news lineup or social media feed. Follow queer creators, like Rebecca Minor/Gender Specialist, or listen to podcasts, like Queery with Cameron Esposito or Making Gay History, to gain insight into the queer experience from those of us who are opening ourselves up to share. (Please don’t ask your LGBTQ+ colleague what they think of HRC’s LGBTQ+ Travel Advisory; not everyone wants to tell you about it over Slack or in the break room.) Remember that queer people are experts of our own experience. Cameron Esposito begins her podcast with a similar sentiment: LGBTQ+ people have been around forever, but the ways in which we understand and describe gender and sexuality is new and foreign for many. Keep an open mind and take in this new information. Even as a queer person, I am learning constantly from people with different experiences all the time.
As Pride Month comes to a close, think about what has gone really well. Is there an initiative that you could continue – such as volunteering with an LGBTQ+ organization – or something you wish you had done better? Is there someone who has a lot of energy and allyship that you could talk to about this article, or do you have the power to make one of these changes right now?
Allyship is an action. It requires consistent consideration, learning, and behavior to be authentic and lasting. This Pride Month, commit to making LGBTQ+ inclusion a year-long activity, a 24/7 routine in your personal and professional life. Every small step and giant leap we make brings us closer to authentic understanding and belonging.
Stay Queer. Stay Curious.
Institutional Giving Professional & Organizational Inclusion Consultant,
Aug 10, 20236:00pm – 9:00pmMuseum of Science
Sep 12, 2023 – Sep 16, 2023Greater Boston