7 stats that show business support for pride has a lasting impact

06 July 2018 -

prideLGBT Pride can have a lasting positive effect on work culture in the following seven ways

Jermaine Haughton

The Pride in London Parade is a celebration that follows a summer of events in support of sexual diversity. Managers at both large and small UK organisations are increasingly publicly voicing support for the movement, and there is evidence that that this has a positive impact on business, as well as wider society.

1. Pride supports your top talent

Pride symbolises tolerance, acceptance and diversity. Supporting the parade sends a clear message to top talent that you take equality and inclusivity seriously.  

All employees want to work for a company that accepts them for who they are.  Harvard Business Review states 72% of LGBT advocates say they are more likely to accept a job at a company that is supportive of LGBT employees than one that is not. Also, 84% of LGBT employees at inclusive companies are significantly more likely to say they are proud to work for their employer and “go the extra mile” to achieve company success.

Having made strides in the fight against terrorism in the UK, MI5 has nurtured an innovative, multi-skilled and technology-proficient workforce as one of the most gay-friendly employers in the UK. This is incredible considering, the organisation refused to hire openly gay men or women until 1991.

2. Pride helps organisations connect with loyal customers

From dedicated ads and special offers to sponsorships, Pride has given businesses a great chance to hold strong conversations with LGBT customers.

The ‘Pink Pound’ is reportedly worth an estimated £70 billion in the UK each year, with gay and non-LGBT customers significantly less likely to buy products from organisations that hold negative views of lesbian and gay people, according to a study by VisitScotland.

Supportive companies are also likely to experience greater brand loyalty from LGBT customers with studies showing 78% of LGBT adults and their social circle would switch to brands that are known to be LGBT-friendly.

HSBC received plaudits for its documentary-style film highlighting the history and success of the Pride Parade and how change has come about since the 1970s. Shared on the bank’s social media and online platforms, HSBC launched the programme to publicly drive support for the LGBT community ahead of Pride.

3. Pride helps protect staff wellbeing

Employer support for LGBT workers starts with ensuring they can feel comfortable and confident in disclosing their sexual orientation at work and being themselves, without fear of judgement or discrimination.

However, more than a third (35%) of LGBT employees feel unable to reveal their sexuality to colleagues due to the fear of a backlash, according to a YouGov poll. This surges to 51% for transgender staff and 42% for black and ethnic minority LGBT people. Up to 18% of respondents said they have received a negative reaction at work because of their sexual orientation.

People who feel unable to be their true selves at work commonly experience a decline in their job satisfaction, commitment and health.

As a result, the Stonewall lesbian and gay health surveys show 22% of gay men and 26% of bisexual men report experiencing mild to severe levels of depression, while 79% lesbian and bisexual women have felt miserable or depressed.

4. LGBT diversity boosts organisational performance

The result of hiring and retaining top talent is better individual and organisational results.

The 2015 Open For Business study shows staff are likely to be more committed to their job and employer if the organisation values the unique input they bring. The approach fosters greater levels of trust, understanding and awareness within teams.

2013 report by Deloitte shows employees experience an 83% lift in their ability to innovate when they feel included and valued by employers. Organisationally, employers can achieve greater profits due to lower legal costs from litigation related to discrimination, greater access to new customers and investors that are seeking organisations with effective non-discrimination policies.

Accenture, for example, from develop its next generation of diverse leadership team through its global LGBT Leaders Learning Training scheme that provides specific mentorship, role models and resources that support the needs of gay professionals.

5. Pride is an opportunity to give back to important causes

Pride offers businesses a valuable chance to reflect on their corporate responsibility initiatives and support the gay rights movement.

Last year, sportswear giant Adidas launched pairs of its popular Stan Smith trainer range with rainbow-coloured laces, reflecting the traditional colours associated with Pride. For every sale, Adidas reportedly donated a portion of the profits to a small charity in Oregan supporting homeless gay teens.

Confectionary brand Skittles also sold Pride-themed items last year – the company pledged to donate 2p per pack to LGBT charities as part of the campaign.

6. Pride encourages managers to focus on the detail

A common management mistake is for bosses to deliver one-size fits all solution to sexual orientation issues. 

Pride marks an ideal time for businesses to research and understand the history, nuances and differing strands of the gay rights movement, and how they can make the biggest impact.

For example, businesses should be aware of lesser-known Pride events such as UK Black Pride – launched in 2006 – which celebrates the contribution of gay people of colour. Numerous studies show black and minority ethnic groups face ‘double discrimination’. Also, disabled, young, transgender and bisexual individuals are often victim to different challenges than a middle-aged gay white male or female, for example.

The LGBT in Britain report by Stonewall shows one in eight black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees (12 per cent) have lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT, compared to four per cent of white LGBT staff. Similarly, 11 per cent of trans employees and nine per cent of LGBT disabled people say they have lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT.

7. Your support can make a real difference to society

Businesses can play their part in making history. Although the UK has made major strides in gay rights, the movement still faces significant challenges to achieving full equality and acceptance.

In spite of progress, 70% of LGBT Britons hide their sexual orientation for fear of a negative reaction, while 28% say they have experienced harassment or insults in the past year. More widely, issues still remain over adoption and foster rights, the reformation of the Gender Recognition Act.

British corporations Diageo, Barclays and Tesco are showing their support as part of Open For Business, a coalition of global companies investing, lobbying and promoting LGBT issues both inside and outside of the office.

“Fully embracing diversity, including gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, experience, and skills, is not only the right thing to do, but we firmly believe it makes good business sense,” says Louise Prashad, Global Talent Director, Diageo.

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