Over the past decade or so, multiple marketing studies have established that LGBTQ+ consumers are the ultimate, oft-untapped resource for building and maintaining brand loyalty. An inclusive marketing study conducted by the Female Quotient found that 71% of LGBTQ+ consumers are more willing to engage with communication efforts that authentically represent them and their sexual orientations/gender identities. One of the best practices for a brand targeting the LGBTQ+ community is allowing members of said community to have a say in the authenticity of a message. Without LGBTQ+ input, targeted messaging can come off as offensive or shallow pandering, potentially ruining a brand’s reputation within the community.
PRWeek asked LGBTQ+ practitioners back in 2019 about their perspective on PR’s progress on LGBTQ+ acceptance, and responses were… mixed. While the industry has been historically very friendly toward the LGBTQ+ community, many current and future practitioners (including myself) are observing where it can still be improved. Here are a few things the non-LGBTQ+ PR practitioner or firm can do to encourage inclusion, which can help cultivate success:
Normalize pronouns and gender-neutral greetings/phrases.
This is as simple as asking new co-workers about their pronouns instead of assuming or updating your email signature to include your own pronouns. Even if you are not gender-non-conforming, including pronouns in the conversation opens up LGBTQ+ practitioners to feel comfortable expressing their identity in the workplace. Gender-neutral vocabulary can take some work, since some gendered phrases are so deeply ingrained into our daily speech. (“Hey dude! or “Hello, ladies and gentlemen!” come to mind.) That’s okay - just practice and be actively aware of how your words can have an impact.
Research LGBTQ+ topics that you don’t understand.
If another practitioner aligns with an identity or mentions a topic you don’t understand, consider doing some private research before interrogating them with potentially personal questions. Plus, it’s generally good knowledge to have for the future, and you can help a co-worker feel respected by doing your homework.
Let LGBTQ+ co-workers speak their truth.
When working with any messaging that involves LGBTQ+ people, encourage LGBTQ+ co-workers to provide their input on the matter. Whether they have issues with the messaging or not, acknowledge their perspective and their knowledge on the matter as LGBTQ+ community members. Active listening is key here - be willing to process and put a different plan into motion if communication efforts are off the mark. It can only benefit you, your co-worker, and the organization as a whole in the end.
Our industry is making significant strides every day toward LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are always working to create open spaces that allow every practitioner to be their truest self and put that sincerity toward their work. As long as we put in the effort, the PR industry can continue to be a pioneer for LGBTQ+ greatness, and that energy will flow outward and make our relationships with the community that much stronger.
This blog post was written by Cayla Rex, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member.