How to ensure your business is LGBTQ2S+ Friendly

A study released last year by the Neilson Company found that Canadian LGBTQ+ consumers spent $3.7 BILLION in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in 2018, so it comes as no surprise that companies are often looking for ways to market to the LGBTQ2S+ community. LGBTQ2S+ consumers have big spending power and there is no doubt that some of that spending is going towards weddings, especially considering a 2017 Ipsos poll found that the average Canadian wedding cost is now over $42,000!

So, as the number of LGBTQ2S+ couples looking to get married continues to increase, how can you make sure your business is inclusive and welcoming for these clients?

lgbtq2s+ friendliy business-2.png


1.       Actually BE LGBTQ2S+ friendly!

If you want your business to be LGBTQ2S+ friendly, the first step is to… actually BE LGBTQ2S+ friendly! Does this seem obvious to you? Unfortunately, “pink-washing” is a real thing, where companies slap a pride flag on their website and claim to be inclusive, without any actual action to back it up. Wedding vendors are no exception – I’ve seen many vendors advertise as LGBTQ2S+ friendly, only to receive forms to fill out that ask for both the “Bride’s name” and “Groom’s name”. At this point in Canada, all businesses SHOULD be LGBTQ2S+ friendly, but unfortunately it’s not always the case. A pride flag on your website is not a bad start, because for many clients, seeing some indication that they will be welcomed as clients can be comforting, especially if they’ve had a bad experience in the past… but it’s not enough to just say it. Businesses need to do more to ‘walk the walk’. How? Move on to step 2!

 

2.       Make sure all your materials, forms, social media, etc. are inclusive.

rainbow flag.jpg

That example above about the “bride” and “groom” fill-in-the-blanks? Don’t be that person. Use gender neutral language (I go with ‘Partner 1’ and ‘Partner 2’), ask before using specific pronouns (including it on your consultation forms is a great way to clarify early on) and actually INCLUDE folks from the LGBTQ2S+ community in your marketing materials! For example, if a wedding photographer says that they are inclusive of ALL couples but every photo on their Instgram feed is of CIS heterosexual couples, this can be a red flag. People are much more likely to hire a company when they see themselves represented in the photos and posts and the work that the company does.

3.       Create a company-wide policy.

Include a statement on your website that explicitly states that you don’t discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation (along with any other form of discrimination!) and make sure that all of your staff, employees, contractors and volunteers abide by this as well (find help and examples here). While some may feel this is just not necessary and just ‘standard’ for all companies across Canada, putting it writing provides a clear signal to LGBTQ2S+ clients that they will be welcomed and safe. In addition, be clear in your policy that your company does not do business or associate with organizations, vendors, companies, etc. who discriminate or who operate in any way that is in conflict with your policy.

 

4.       Be inclusive within your own organization.

Hire members of the LGBTQ2S+ community! Even with the best of intentions, people make mistakes… and if you are someone who wants to make sure you are doing the best you can for your LGBTQ2S+ clients and employees, talk to and hire people who know what it’s like to be a client from the LGBTQ2S+ community! Someone with lived experience can bring a valuable perspective and point out things you may not notice. In addition, ensure that the policy you created from Step 3 is enforced in day-to-day office life as well - provide training for employees, and enforce a zero tolerance policy for discrimination in the workplace.

 

5.       Donate, volunteer, support.

Ottawa Pride parade

Put your money (and time!) where your mouth is. Support LGBTQ2S+ organizations, go to the Pride festivals in your city, volunteer for one of the many important LGBTQ2S+ causes out there. Here are some of our favourites:

 So, there you have it! Thinking of something we haven’t included here? Know of some other wonderful LGBTQ2S+ organizations or charities that could use donations and volunteers? Let us know in the comments below!