How brands can attract the LGBTQ community through an intersectional lens
The day The Trevor projectPartner s companies were planning to launch their Pride activations the same day mass protests erupted across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Trevor called on his corporate partners to stop their campaigns to give space, time and resources to the #BLM movement.
This was far from the first time that Trevor, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, has advised corporate partners on how to communicate appropriately with the population it serves.
In this case, it was important to stress to partners that Pride and BLM share a common denominator, according to Muneer Panjwani, Trevor’s vice president, Foundation, government and corporate partnerships in a recent webinar. “The origins of Pride are exactly the same as the Black Lives Matter movement is currently fighting: a movement against systemic violence and against the police trying to oppress a marginalized community.”
What is “intersectionality”?
The concept of “intersectionality” is particularly relevant to businesses that choose to focus on the LGBTQ community and is defined as “the complex and cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism and classism) ) combine, overlap or overlap, especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.
According to Panjwani, LGBTQ youth represent many sub-communities. Many of them have identities where they are more marginalized, whether they are black LGBTQ, immigrant LGBTQ, female LGBTQ, trans or non-binary gender. “These overlapping identities exacerbate the effects of prejudice and discrimination and present additional mental health issues,” says Panjwani.
A recent study by Trevor found that although black LGBTQ youth have experienced suicidal tendencies at rates similar to other LGBTQ groups, they are significantly less likely to receive professional mental health care. And black trans youth experience higher suicide rates than lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer black youth. These points of distinction help Trevor identify service gaps and further focus their efforts on reaching these at-risk populations.
When it comes to corporate partnerships, Trevor has a few tips for brands considering engaging with the LGBTQ community, particularly through an intersectional lens:
While the word ‘authenticity’ is a buzzword in social impact efforts, in this context, it means asking yourself whether your business is talking about LGBTQ issues throughout the year or just when pride. is present. Another question Trevor recommends asking internally: “Would the community you were dating consider you an ally?” If the answer is “no”, you have work to do.
Trevor partner Macy’s serves as a valuable case example. Macy’s has been engaged with the LGBTQ community for over 30 years and was one of the first brands to engage with a public display of support during the HIV crisis of the 1980s. They have LGBTQ representation throughout the world. organization, at all levels. They incorporate LGBTQ images into their marketing materials.
Even with this long-standing support, Macy’s realized last year that they lacked a national customer-centric component in their LGBTQ efforts. According to Macy’s senior vice president of communications, Cheryl Heinonen, “a light bulb went out and we said, ‘It’s not fair.’ As a result, the company decided to ‘integrate’ the Trevor project.
In 2019, Macy’s launched a nationwide point-of-sale fundraising campaign asking customers to donate upon payment to The Trevor Project. According to Heinonen, “Our Pride with Trevor campaign was one of the most productive campaigns we’ve had (at the point of sale). A few people have complained (there always are) but overall our customers across the country have adopted it. ” The effort also won over the partners a Halo award.
According to Panjwani, companies should ensure that their campaigns contribute directly (financially) to an LGBTQ-focused cause and should focus on the direct impact they have on campaign messages. While awareness is nice, moving the needle is not enough. Additionally, impact-focused messages tend to get more engagement because people want to know that their participation – however small – is making a significant difference.
Trevor partner Google understands the importance of impact. According to Shea Jackson McCann of Google, Brand Marketing Manager for Google Brand Studio, “Our main strategic pillar internally is helpfulness. Everything you see from Google should get you to act yourself. Our main lever of engagement is Google homepage which acts as the main funnel to all of our posts related to affinity groups. ”
On the last day of Pride Month, for example, Google’s homepage featured a Doodle by Marsha P. Johnson urging people to learn more about the black trans activist. Google.org also donated $ 500,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.
Raise diverse LGBTQ voices
According to Panjwani, LGBTQ marketing campaigns should always center the voices of the LGBTQ community itself. Brands need to be aware that the LGBTQ community contains many different communities and ensure that those voices are raised – especially the marginalized voices that have not been so centered in historic pride campaigns.
Below are examples from Macy’s and Google partnering with The Trevor Project on how this can be done effectively.
Finally, Trevor offers a “cheat sheet” for brands for LGBTQ marketing:
- Does your business have inclusive LGBTQ policies? (Check HEI corporate equality index criteria!)
- Does your business focus the voices of diverse members of the LGBTQ community (and sub-communities!) In your posts?
- Does your business feature individuals with diverse identities within the LGBTQ community?
- Is your campaign contributing to issues impacting the intersectional LGBTQ community?
- Do you have an LGBTQ nonprofit partner involved? (Trevor believes there should always be an LGBTQ nonprofit that benefits from all LGBTQ-focused cause marketing efforts.)
- Is your business ready to have stimulating conversations and to continue to grow and improve?