Business development · 4 July 2018

Pride 2018: Are these big brands LGBT+ allies or opportunists?

Pride In London 2017
Barclays’ float at London Pride 2017

With London’s Pride month in full swing, we are all used to seeing shop windows and inside displays covered in the colours of the rainbow. But, have all of these brands jumped on the bandwagon due to goodwill or money?

Our high streets and city centres have been splattered with rainbow flags and queer symbols in an attempt to attract LGBT+ consumers – or more so what is in their wallets.

More often than not, the LGBT+ audience is otherwise not specifically targeted by big brands other than during Pride month.

With the suggestion that the “brandwagon” is full of opportunistic businesses trying to collect their share of the pot.

However, it is important to remember what the month-long celebration of Pride is all about – the stigma and prejudice the LGBT+ community still faces.

Research by The Big Issue has shown that members of the LGBT+ community make up to 24 per cent of the youth homeless population in Britain.

It is also still evident that there is still a high level of prejudice in UK workplaces surrounding the LGBT+ workers, as 1 in 3 employers would not hire a transgender person.

This year, a range of big companies have made the effort to jazz up for pride and get involved in the multicoloured movement.

These brands have each pledged their support for LGTB+ people not only by slapping on a rainbow, but also by supporting giving back to the people.

However, some motives might be a little questionable. We’ve dug a little deeper into Pride campaigns from some of the UK’s best-known brands to see if their intentions are genuine or a case of jumping on the brandwagon.

Barclays

The big bank has been working to “build a better tomorrow for everyone” for over 100 years and will emerge has the headline sponsor of Pride in London for the fifth year running.

According to Barclays itself, the bank believes the event is an important part of connecting with staff and customers.

Ahead of Pride 2018, Mark McLane, global head of diversity and inclusion said: “For Barclays, diversity is important but inclusion is essential to drive innovation and business impact.

“Being able to be yourself in the workplace removes barriers that impede productivity and engagement. Being headline sponsors of Pride in London is one way for us to show that becoming the go-to bank is about colleagues and customers. We want everyone to feel welcome at Barclays.”

Adidas

For this year’s Pride month, sportswear giant Adidas launched a pride pack to honour pride, diversity and expression which included the revamping of four shoes.

Inside each shoe, a message reads: “We are proud and unapologetic, and we encourage you to be the same.”

Arguably, Adidas’ loyalties are a little skewed, as the brand is a major sponsor of this year’s World Cup in Russia.

Russia is notorious for its anti-LGBT+ attitudes and laws, and is an unsafe place for fans and athletes. Furthermore, this stark contradiction of brand values connotes ingenuity in its “support” of pride.

However, it did remain an ally with this year’s Valentine’s Day Instagram post.

Primark

This year, Primark has teamed up with key LGBT+ support charity Stonewall. Sales of full priced items from the Pride 2018 collection clothing range directly results in 20% of proceeds going to Stonewall.

The full collection is bursting with rainbow shades and motifs, as well as trendy‐savvy designs and key seasonal items.

Nick Lambert, a buyer at Primark Stores Ltd said: “Throughout the course of the project, it’s been absolutely vital to us that we join up good intentions with a meaningful way of giving back to the community, and that’s where Stonewall came in.

“We also wanted to make sure the collection was fun, practical, and relevant to our customers. We’ve been very lucky to feel the support of our fantastic buyers, from across the business, and we are truly proud (no pun intended!) of the end result.

H&M

For the first time in history, it’s going to start raining with pride in H&M. The retail giant is showcasing its support of the LGBT+ community by introducing a new campaign of pride apparel which will be sold in its stores all around the world.

10% of proceeds from the sales of their pride inspired collection will be donated to the United Nations Human Rights Office Free and Equal campaign.

Commenting on this, Andreas Lowenstam, H&M’s head of menswear design said “H&M believes in everybody’s right to love who they want. We hope people can use H&M’s Pride collection to celebrate their belief in equal love.”

However, the fact that H&M produce their Love For All collection from factories in Bangladesh, where homosexuality is punishable by death with life imprisonment has caused mixed opinions.

H&M items from its Pride range are also manufactured in Turkey and China – countries where homosexuality is legal but where activists says gay people suffer homophobia.

Steve Taylor, director of EuroPride, an umbrella group for European Pride organisers, criticised H&M and said: “They shouldn’t be making these products in countries where LGBT equality isn’t a reality.”

“It’s a bit of a smack in the face for somebody who goes to work every day, printing Pride on a t-shirt, but if they were to wear that to walk down the street they would probably be killed.”

Nandos

For the past few years, Nandos have been #flamingproud sponsors of Pride events across the UK. It has posted on the Nandos official blog each year with the different pride events that it will be attending and setting up hashtags for its campaign.

Also, during Pride marches, many Nandos staff members who work in the peri-peri restaurants have flocked to join in local marches nationwide. This is nothing but positive you’d think?

Well, turning up on the day with a rainbow chicken is all well and good, but is the company advocating LGBT+ rights or is it just using the opportunity for mass exposure?

Nandos has been criticised for using Pride parades as marketing tools for not donating to any LGBT+ support charities.

I’d have way less issue with Nandos and the like handing out rainbow flags at Pride if they would, you know, give money to struggling LGBTQIA charities here and in the UK, but I guess that’s a lot to ask.

— Aifric (@aifreckle) June 12, 2018

Ahead of London Pride 2018, Business Advice is publishing a series of articles celebrating the role of the LGBT+ community in UK workplaces and informing employers of best practice for inclusion.

Workplace transphobia: 1 in 3 employers won’t hire a transgender candidate

Preparing your workplace for a transgender employee

Do we still need a “business case” to promote LGBT+ inclusion in our workforces?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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