Did you know that June is Pride Month? That’s right, it’s here! But how can you get involved in a meaningful way within your own small business?

What steps can you take to help create a more inclusive society and combat the scourge of intolerance that has historically been brought against the LGBTIQ+ community?

It starts with being authentic and knowledgeable.

The Australian story of Pride

In Australia, there exists a long and often brutal history when it comes to the treatment of the LGBTIQ+ community. In many ways, it came to a head on a cold night on June 24, 1978, when the first unsanctioned Madi Gras took place in Sydney.

Over 500 people marched down Sydney’s Oxford Street that evening to rally for the decriminalisation of homosexuality (which was still illegal in NSW) and push back against discrimination. They did so in commemoration of the New York Stonewall riots, which were met with violence and arrest.

They too were met with violence and arrest. Police detained 53 people that night, many of whom had their photos splashed across local newspaper spreads to further intimidate and ostracise them from society. These first brave protesters became known as the ‘78ers’.

Since then, we’ve seen slow but steady acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community, with gay marriage being legalised in 2017, prejudice and discrimination more recognised, and harmful ‘conversion therapy’ gradually criminalised and stamped out.

There is still a long way to go, but you can help.

Don’t use pride month purely as a marketing ploy

Pride Month, as well as other noted events and causes which seek to promote inclusivity, is not a mindless way to market your business.

If you have no genuine desire to promote inclusivity and get involved in a meaningful way, and instead wish to use Pride Month to boost your bottom line, please rethink your intentions.

Splash the flag and be a part of the acceptance and celebration movement

Now, as long as you come from a genuine place, don’t hesitate to splash the rainbow flag to show support for your local LGBTIQ+ community!

Visibility of support is a powerful tool which spreads throughout society.

You can include rainbow motifs in your logos, change up your social media profile backgrounds, or put a rainbow sticker on your workplace or business entrance. This can help indicate to the community that your business is a safe space for all people.

When coupled with authentic intentions, even such small gestures can go far in terms of normalising the practice of celebrating pride and diversity. Doing so shows support for your LGBTIQ+ employees, customers, and communities.

Educate yourself, then your staff

Education is key to understanding the nuances of Pride Month and its ethos. Take some time out of your day to research and learn about the painful history of persecution of those with non hetero-normative sexualities and gender identities.

Make sure to read directly from LGBTIQ+ authors.

Because only when you can empathise with the continuing struggles of the LGBTIQ+ community can you gain the right perspective to be a true ally.

Now pass your knowledge on the subject on to your staff. This can be formal training, informal discussions, or awareness sessions.

One integral aspect to this is understanding pronouns. To fully respect someone’s identity and personhood, you need to respect the way everybody wishes to be addressed. There are plenty of free resources to help you perfect your pronoun usage when being LGBTIQ+ inclusive.

Make inclusivity a key part of your workplace culture and hiring policies

Your work contracts should include a discrimination policy or clause. Make it abundantly clear to your employees that intolerance and bigotry is not acceptable at any level in the workplace and may be grounds for disciplinary action.

Progressing an inclusive hiring policy ensures any subtle prejudice does not creep into your own hiring practices.

At the heart of it – make it clear on every level that you run an inclusive and unprejudiced workplace that is accepting and supportive of all people and identities.

Actively support and promote an LGBTIQ+ cause

Get involved with an organisation that does meaningful work to address LGBTIQ+ inequality.

Better yet, use your social media reach to share ways others can get involved. This way, instead of just posting the rainbow flag, you can be more active in spreading support and awareness.

There are many such non-profits and other organisations out there doing amazing work, find one that resonates with you and get involved.

Together, we can all make LGBTIQ+ discrimination a thing of the past.