2022 is shaping up to have the most anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced across the United States. From proposed laws targeting transgender athletes to the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bills, LGBTQ rights are facing an onslaught of attacks on their legitimacy. Less than halfway through the years, more than half of the states have introduced at least one bill (but often more) seeking to ostracize and punish the LGBTQ community. This needs to be combatted on various levels, including in the business world.
Whether you’re a customer or a business owner, being tangibly and explicitly supportive of the LGBTQ community is crucial.
From shopping LGBTQ-owned businesses to cultivating safe workspaces, there are several reasons why such actions are not only the right things to do, but also profitable.
Below are some ways to choose and advocate for an LGBTQ-inclusive economy:
For Business Owners
Instead of: Keeping politics and business separate
Try: Speaking up
If anti-LGBTQ legislation is proposed where your business is located, take a stand against it. The choice will be beneficial for both the bottom line as well as a company’s reputation and legacy.
According to a report by Submittable, Millennials and Gen Z make up 64% of the global population. They are also getting older and gaining more access to a disposable income. Publicly, they still have an enormous impact on trends, what’s popular, and boosting a company’s name recognition and reputation.
And provided you don’t want a negative TikTok review that could garner millions of views, it’s smart to listen to their demands. According to Submittable’s report, 64% of these consumers expect brands to “use resources and power to help people” and 72% want businesses to be “positive contributors to society.”
This could be several things, but according to the Public Religion Research Institute, 67% of young adults in the US believe small business owners should not be able to refuse service to LGBTQ people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
When anti-LGBTQ legislation is passed, such as North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” businesses take a bit hit economically and people are statistically more likely to work—and work hard—for a business that welcomes and respects them and their contributions.
Instead of: Rainbow Capitalism
Try: LGBTQ products year-round with monetary support for the community
It’s June, which means companies across the globe are starting to brand their products with rainbows. Many of these companies get accused of rainbow capitalism, or pandering to the LGBTQ community simply to make money off the community.
Good news? It’s easy to avoid rainbow capitalism.
Simply offer LGBTQ products and support for the community year-round. This means not just releasing LGBTQ products or donating to LGBTQ charities in June, but also in October and March because LGBTQ people also exist then.
Instead of: Operating alone
Try: Finding a community and fostering an inclusive workspace
Businesses can play a bigger role than simply offering products or services. For small businesses, especially, there’s a chance to have an impact on your local community, including the LGBTQ folks who live in your city.
Beyond making your advocacy for LGBTQ rights known, you can tangibly get involved.
For your employees, strive to make the workplace as inclusive as possible, from respecting pronouns to offering gender-neutral facilities. It is also important to listen to what your LGBTQ employees need, whether its health benefits or a different uniform to fit their gender identity.
In your community, consider offering your space to host LGBTQ events and partnering with LGBTQ organizations, charities, and if you’re not an LGBTQ business owner, but an ally, working on cross-promotion with LGBTQ-owned businesses.
Instead of: Shopping at Amazon, Target, etc.
Try: Supporting LGBTQ-owned businesses
This one probably seems obvious—but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Along the lines of Green America’s Vote with Your Dollar toolkit, monetarily supporting LGBTQ-owned businesses can do a lot of good.
Your money sends a message just as a vote does. It lets business owners know what products and services, as well as what kinds of businesses, are worthy of your dollar. For small businesses, it helps them stay afloat in a competitive market and helps foster an inclusive and diverse economy.
If you want to support a green LGBTQ-owned business, look no further than the Green Pages. There’s Green Business Network member MuLondon for all your skincare needs, or The Big Bad Woof for pet owners.
Instead of: Keeping your sweet new purchase to yourself
Try: Telling your friends
Did you buy something your love from an LGBTQ-owned business? Did someone ask where you got your amazing shirt? Spread the word!
Businesses thrive through word-of-mouth. If you love an LGBTQ-owned business, let the world know. Recommend them to friends, family, colleagues and post about them on social media!
Going back to Millennials and Gen Z, young adults expect brands and companies to interact with them in ways previous generations never considered. Now on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, you can make your voice heard to companies, or converse with them. This relationship is key for a company’s image and recognition.
Instead of: Not knowing your own power
Try: Educating and researching
There are more ways you can impact a small and LGBTQ-owned business than simply buying their products. Educate yourself on local legislation and politicians who support small businesses and a diverse economy—then vote.
You can also support organizations like Open for Business, which works to show how LGBTQ inclusion supports the economy, and stay up to date with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.