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In our recent webinar, LGBTQ+ Issues in Ecommerce & the Workplace, Kate Delhagen, (Founder of Oregon Sports Angels) led a discussion on how companies can expand their awareness on LGBTQ+ issues and how equality can be further strengthened both in and outside of the workplace. Delhagen was joined by Jim Hilt (President of Shutterfly), Myke Mansberger (VP Head of People at Bombas) and Doug Jensen (SVP Go-to-Market Analytics & Activation and Learning Center of Excellence of Estée Lauder).
Read the recap below or watch the replay here.
PANEL DISCUSSION WITH Q+A
CELEBRATING PRIDE MONTH IN ECOMMERCE & RETAIL
The conversation opens with a talk on intersectionality and equality in the workforce. Delhagen, Hilt, Mansberger and Jensen relay their own experiences on LGBTQ+ struggles within ecommerce and how their specific companies are celebrating Pride Month.
BOMBAS educates their customers through their Pride Month packaging and marketing. They believe that educating consumers is just as important as celebrating pride. Bombas also ensured that all models and stylists for their Pride collection are a part of an all-queer team to preserve authencity in the campaign. They also keep an LGTBQ+ employee resource team on staff for advice and direction.
ESTÉE LAUDER continues growing their AIDS fund (created through their subsidiary company M.A.C. Cosmetics) to support AIDS charities throughout the United States. They also aim to have LGBTQ+ company leaders manage the company’s direction during Pride Month from the top down. With senior LGTBQ+ leadership, individual brands within the parent company can ladder up to that direction and build something even stronger.
SHUTTERFLY wants to focus on ways for their company to participate effectively in the commercialization of Pride, but have marketing efforts come from a rooted place. In marketing messages and images, they diversified “family.” Hilt notes that they committed between 70%-80% in marketing campaigns to focus on a more diverse landscape of different families. Additionally, the company launched a Pride collection and will release rebirth announcements during National Coming Out Day for the transgender community. Shutterfly then shifted gears to examine internal relations by establishing their first employee resource group for LGBTQ+ employees and allies.
ALLYSHIP: GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
BOMBAS stresses not to let HR oversee diversity and inclusion (DEI). Bombas is structured so that DEI is headed by their CEO, which allows for accountability throughout all departments in the company. Mansberger recommends going straight to the top to begin planning an increase in diversity and inclusion within your company.
ESTÉE LAUDER affirms that you don’t have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to start an employee resource group. Jensen recommends frequently checking the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for your company’s corporate equality index. As the HRC rates companies on how well they treat and provide benefits to LGBTQ+ workers, allies within the community can look at the scores to further understand what’s important to LGBTQ+ employees. As an ally, you can also connect with your employee research group to educate yourself on issues to support said community.
SHUTTERFLY recommends just getting started. Even if it’s small, allies can gather a group of employees to create a community of safety and support for all LGBTQ+ workers.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY & RE-EDUCATION
Everyone on the panel encouraged marketers to re-educate themselves. As people and professionals with jobs that are meant to educate others (whether it be on a product, brand or otherwise), we have a social responsibility to be cognizant and learn about things we don’t know. They stress that it is not on those within the LGBTQ+ community to become public educators, but rather on straight and cisgender people to seek out educational resources.
Mansberger further expressed how the data and information gained from employee engagement surveys and specific belonging surveys can break and pivot overall data from self-reported demographics to avoid misdirection. Often as a company, you have to read between the lines to learn how to address deep-rooted issues within minority communities. Explore ways to get leaders to further understand and support their employees through data—ultimately encouraging action and investment.
POSITIONING YOUR BRAND + HOW TO SUPPORT THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY THROUGH MARKETING
The panelists shared some ways in which their companies and others can support the LGBTQ+ community through marketing. Here are the best practices:
- Think collectively about the groups comprised within the LGBTQ+ community to increase company inclusion for those employees, no matter how small the percentage.
- It isn’t just the size of the community you are supporting, it’s also the size of the community who love brands that are engaged. By being an ally, it sends an attractive message about the brand’s authenticity to the community.
- Ask for help. There are a multitude of organizations (e.g. The Fluid Project) that can help you market in ways that are non-binary. Test things out so you can court that market.
- Avoid looking at the LGBTQ+ community as a consumer market simply during Pride Month. Embody Pride Month values all year-long to increase brand authenticity and continue customer retention.
- Beginning a conversation about diversity and equality within your company is the first step. Whether you go to the top or start an employee resource group, there are many ways for you to increase inclusion within your workplace.
- Have your company celebrate Pride Month’s values throughout the year and not just temporarily. By embodying consistent marketing messaging year-round, this will help increase brand authenticity for all consumers.
- To be a good ally is to do the research and educate yourself by bringing those new ideas/issues forward to the LGBTQ+ community and your company’s leadership. Proceed with curiosity and positive intent.
If you liked what you read, make sure to tune into CommerceNext’s other webinars for more ideas on expanding diversity and inclusivity within ecommerce and retail. Click the recommended links below for similar blog posts like this one.