Are companies profiting from LGBTQ+ history?
Gay Pride is looking quite different this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although this has not stopped everybody from getting involved and having their own pride celebrations. Companies also want to play their part in contributing to the LGBTQ+ community. Either by selling pride merchandise for attendees or donating to support LGBTQ+ organisations.
There is a certain corporate incentive for brands and companies to get involved with pride for the wrong reasons though. Businesses may use the commercialisation of the event to boost revenue by playing on symbolic support by creating LGBTQ+ themed products yet offering no true support.
This is clearly shown by the lack of LGBTQ+ themed products on sale throughout the whole year in comparison to just in pride month.
Businesses instead capitalise on worldwide events such as Pride as they witness a spike in sales passing these products off as limited editions to increase interest.
This begs the question, do companies support LGBTQ+ issues and want to make a contribution or are they using these events to boost their branding.
It is essential companies do not utilise Pride just to make profit because they are actually benefiting from peoples struggles and pain. This is why it is essential companies need to educate themselves on the history of pride and how meaningful it is for the LGBTQ+ community.
If you wish to find out more about the history of Pride, I wrote an article about the beginning of pride and why we need it more than ever right now. You can view the article here 'How Pride began and why we need it more than ever.'
"Pride" for profit
In this article you will see a range of companies offering pride products that are using percentage of their sales to donate to LGBTQ+ charities and companies that are selling LGBTQ+ limited edition products for personal gain. I hope this opens your eyes to the world of business as we explore who is looking to make a difference and who is just looking for a quick cash in.
Pride is a month dedicated to raising awareness, educating ourselves and coming together to honour the influential activists from LGBTQ+ history who inspired change.
You can clearly notice companies who are dedicated to honouring these traditions and using their platforms to spread awareness In comparison to companies `exclusive' pride merch."
We need to hold these companies accountable for exploiting our struggles as a marketing opportunity. I heavily advise you to ask these questions before picking out your next pride collection.
Will any of the sales be donated to LGBTQ+ charities? Is this company a consistent contributor to the LGBTQ+ community all year round?
Yahoo!Finance ran an article last year stating that “two in five brands with Pride campaigns are not donating to LGBTQ+ causes.” Reboot Online analysed over 250 companies and only 64% of brands are donating some of their profits to any relevant charities.
Reboot’s response to these companies who are not donating was they they are “jumping on the rainbow bandwagon without giving back.”
This is why I wanted to show a selection of large companies who are making effective contributions to the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month.
Converse are a well-renowned shoe company who have released their annual pride collection. This year's edition is inspired by the "More Colour, More Pride" flag, which was made famous by social justice advocate Amber Hikes. They stated that "the collection aims to celebrate the power of diversity and inclusion to connect us."
As I stated earlier, it is important for companies to use this month to raise money for incredible charities. Converse wrote on its website that they "are proud of their ongoing commitment to support LGBTQIA+ youth as they spark progress to build the future they believe in." Contributing since 2015, Converse has supported longstanding global and local LGBTQIA+ youth partners such as It Gets Better Project, Bagly, The Ali Forney Center and Out MetroWest.
The unique addition to the converse pride package this year is the fact you can customise your own pride shoes. This is a unique feature that will interest buyers who want to stand out with their own creations. Whether it is a hightop or a trainer, full of rainbows or colour there is an option for everybody.
Titled 'Pride By You" these unique pairs of Chuck Taylor shoes enable you to customise details such as the patch, laces, and colours from designs inspired by different LGBTQIA+ identities.
Get a hold of your own pair from Converse's incredible pride collection by clicking Converse Pride.
Another consistent contributor to the LGBTQ+ community is Adidas. Similar to Converse, Adidas have a wide variety of Pride apparel that they release each year. From jumpers and fanny packs to sportswear and fashion statements, Adidas have smashed it with this year's collection.
Sadly singular purchases of these items won’t add to donations but Adidas is a regular contributor to the Trevor Project.
Tipped as the brands most interesting offering of products yet, the Adidas Originals collection includes the Ultraboost S&L, Nite Jogger and the new Carerra Low.
If you are aspiring to look trendy this summer or preparing for next year's celebrations, then Adidas has you covered. If you want to take a look for yourself here is the Adidas website.
Zenni's Pride collection this year is contributing towards the It Gets Better Project where 100% of their proceeds (up to £30,000) throughout the month of June are donated to the nonprofit organisation. It Gets Better Project was set up too ‘uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth around the globe.’
There is an amazing variety of rainbow glasses to choose from to rock pride month this year. Zenni are also encouraging buyers to share their purchases on their social media pages with the hastgag #SeeMoreLove.
You can see (pardon the pun) the amazing glasses on offer by visiting the Zenni website.
Once again joining up with the UN Free & Equal Campaign for LGBTQ+ equality. Banana Republic will be donating £60,000 this year to help LGBTQ+ communities who are ‘extra vulnerable to stigma, exclusion and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic.’
With a variety of clothing on offer from pride polo shirts to knitted rainbow skirts there's something for everybody.
Unlike other suggestions you can also purchase a pride themed gift card from Banana Republic that donates to worthy LGBTQ+ charities.
Banana Republic and the Gap have been fantastic contributors to the LGBTQ+ community over the years and are on track to have donated $500,000 in the last five years.
You can take a look at the variety of colourful clothing items on sale at the Banana Republic website.
Big brands supporting LGBTQ+ causes
I have only mentioned a portion of large companies pledging to donate portions of their sales to LGBTQ+ charities. Each year thankfully the percentage increases of companies donating too. Companies like Doc Martenswho will be donating $25,000 this year to The Trevor Project.
Not all companies want to use their products to boast their donations but rather just contribute from their own pockets. Supermarket powerhouse Target have donated $100,000 to help GLSEN, which was founded by teachers that support LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 education. Target have said that it “creates affirming learning environments for LGBTQ youth.”
Marc Jacobs Beauty have also released a pride collection. The beauty label is making a $10,000 donation each to Le Refuge, a French organisation that supports LGBTQ+ youth, and Sage, an organisation that helps older members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Reebokare donating $75,000 from its All Types of Love Pride collection to the It Gets Better Projectand $50,000 to Boston Based non-profit Fenway Health. The trainer brand teamed up with LGBTQ+ activists and influencers to tell their stories in a special campaign, titled Proud Notes.
You can watch this touching video as these activists read out letters from loved ones. The campaign highlights the stories of five people: Wazina Zondon, co-creator of Coming Out Muslim; Twiggy Pucci Garçon, a choreographer for the show Pose and program director for True Colours United; dance teacher Nali Flower; painter and model Dylan Camp; and June, a model with New Pandemics.
Since 2012, Nike have been releasing their pride collections each year named the BeTrue Collections. This year, Nike is pledging $500,000—through $25,000 grants administered by the Charities Aid Foundation of America—to 20-plus organisations fighting for LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. Nike did something similar in 2019 when they supported local LGBTQ+ causes like Campus Pride, You Can Play, and the Point Foundation.
Ugg and ASOS will also be selling a pride collection this year where they will both be donating to GLAADa non-profit organisation that aims to ensure inclusivity in media. 100% of ASOS sales from their pride collection will be donated to GLAAD and Ugg unveiled its #UggPride campaign where they pledged to donate $125,000 from its collection to GLAAD.
Companies can also help LGBTQ+ charities by being apart of their sponsor list. This is why I have attached The Trevor Project and the Human Right Campaigns corporate sponsor list below: The Trevor Project: Corporate Sponsor List Human Right Campaign: Corporate Sponsor List
Companies can change lives for the LGBTQ+ community
I hope this article has helped you understand the impact large companies can make in supporting the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month.
Sadly there are still companies who like to use these events as a marketing strategy. The truth is because you decide to change your company's logo background to a rainbow doesn’t mean you are actively contributing towards the LGBTQ+ community.
There are so many worthy charities who are thankfully receiving generous donations from large companies thanks to you, the consumers. You can help fund change but please research the company before purchasing and see if they are not just using Pride as a marketing scheme.
Now all that’s left is to say I hope you have an amazing pride full of colour, laughter and fashion. Lastly to all the companies who are actively contributing to the LGBTQ+ community this year, we thank you. Let's aim for 100% of companies to donate next year.