Brands as Year-Long Allies

Before each Pride Month approaches, communication professionals tend to get reminded of their crucial role in fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging in the workplace. Pride Month should serve as an opportunity to refresh and align DE&I efforts with larger organizational strategies and ESG goals. Although the impact extends beyond one month, Pride Month acts as a catalyst for ongoing change. It reinforces a company’s commitment to fostering a culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and cared for.


Recently, Target faced threats and backlash regarding its in-store displays of Pride merchandise, putting the safety and well-being of its employees at risk. To prioritize their workers’ security, Target decided to remove much of the merchandise. CEO Brian Cornell addressed the issue in a letter to employees, defending the decision while reaffirming the company’s support for the LGBTQ+ community. While some commended Target for prioritizing employee well-being, many experts caution against setting a precedent of canceling Pride campaigns. However, for communication professionals, this incident highlights the delicate balance organizations must maintain between espousing inclusive values important to some stakeholders and avoiding the ire of others. During Pride Month, such instances serve as a reminder that consistently demonstrating support through year-round efforts remains the best way to weather vocal opposition. To its credit, Target has made unwavering support for LGBTQ+ employees a core value of its employer brand. The company’s dedicated webpage showcases over a decade of engagement with Pride, its Pride+ Business Council ERG, partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations and suppliers, and more. These components contribute to Target’s broader inclusion narrative, which should be proudly emphasized to counter accusations of inauthenticity or opportunism.

Bigger initiatives

Supporting LGBTQ+ employees should be an ongoing effort, Pride Month also provides a timely opportunity to center initiatives around a core theme. PayPal, for instance, has embraced the theme of “Visibly Proud” this year, focusing on promoting small acts of visible allyship. PayPal’s efforts include a resource guide on normalizing pronoun use, encouraging leaders to include their pronouns in profiles and communications, providing Pride-themed virtual backgrounds for meetings, and more. These seemingly minor actions send powerful signals of allyship, foster inclusion, and contribute to a culture of belonging.

Leadership allies

True change begins at the top, and modeling allyship is no exception. Sally Susman, EVP and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer, stands out as a highly respected LGBTQ+ corporate leader. Her internal influence and external thought leadership reinforce the work done by members of Pfizer’s OPEN colleague resource group. This demonstrates Pfizer’s commitment to walking the talk and sends a strong message to all stakeholders. PayPal’s leaders also embody actionable allyship by implementing a mentorship program that pairs Pride members and senior executives. Leaders openly share personal stories, including struggles with acceptance, creating an environment of vulnerability and understanding. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman champions inclusion by conducting interviews with LGBTQ+ leaders and discussing how PayPal can get involved in key issues affecting the community.

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