The Importance of LGBTQ+ Representation in Marketing
Happy Pride Month to my fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community! While we should all be proud of who we are all the time, this month gives us the excuse to be extra proud of our identities. For those of you who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community, join us as allies and celebrate with us. Pride should shine through in all aspects of our lives, including in the workplace and in our marketing because the representation of LGBTQ+ individuals matters in all aspects of our lives.
- Wondering why LGBTQ+ representation matters in the workforce and in marketing materials?
- How can you and your company properly support the LGBTQ+ community year-round?
- Looking for things not to do with your marketing this pride month?
You’ve found the right blog post!
Why Representation of the LGBTQ+ Community Matters in the Workforce
We’re all humans, and work is one of many aspects of our lives. With 40 hours spent at work every week, LGBTQ+ individuals likely want to have an inclusive environment where they feel comfortable bringing themselves fully to work, rather than putting on a heteronormative facade to avoid any anticipated discrimination. Help LGBTQ+ people know that your company is a safe space for them with inclusivity ingrained into your culture. Many people in the LGBTQ+ community have faced discrimination, and knowing that there are allies and/or other members of the LGBTQ+ community working alongside them can bring a sense of comfort.
Diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community matter in all workforces and departments, but I’ll argue that it holds even more significance in marketing departments and agencies. Marketing teams ultimately determine the imagery and language being used to publicly represent businesses and products. Marketing materials including website imagery, emails, commercials, printed ads, social media, and more lack authentic representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Having diverse people in the room to develop marketing for brands often improves the representation and inclusion seen across marketing materials since their voice is being heard with a unique perspective to advocate for authentic depictions of people like them in marketing campaigns.
Why LGBTQ+ Representation Matters in the Marketing and the Media
What people see on screen has implications for the way in which many people view the world. For instance, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) reported that only 20% of Americans personally know someone who is transgender. The other 80% of people base their perception of transgender individuals around depictions that they see in the media. Similarly, people who have minimal experience with individuals of other identities in the LGBTQ+ community often base their perceptions of that entire subset of the LGBTQ+ community solely on what they see on screen.
This is an extremely important topic in the entertainment industry, especially with the broad audience that many films reach. However, authentic representation can only make a big impact on viewers if the representation exists. Unfortunately, only ~20% of films from major studios in the past year included at least one character who is in the LGBTQ+ community (GLAAD). Even worse, only “1.8% of all advertising on mainstream media in 2020 represented LGBTQ+ people” according to an article from Forbes.
As marketers, we have the power to change what people are seeing on screen. While we might not be creating films for the big screen, we are choosing the imagery that people see when from businesses on social media, websites, advertisements, and more. If we can start making the imagery that we control for businesses more inclusive, we’re making progress that can have a huge impact on others by giving LGBTQ+ individuals the opportunity to see themselves on screen and providing more positive exposure to non-LGBTQ+ individuals. In fact, according to GLAAD’s LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising & Media report, “Non-LGBTQ people who are exposed to LGBTQ media images are more likely to experience increasing levels of acceptance and comfortability towards LGBTQ people.”
How More LGBTQ+ Depictions in Marketing Help People Like Me
Growing up in a small town, I rarely met people who identified within the LGBTQ+. I really struggled with accepting myself because I consistently heard negative comments and stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community and was told that it was unacceptable to be gay. Once I finally got over the hurdle of self-acceptance, I struggled to gain acceptance from many others around me. I remember the day that I first saw someone like me in a movie, and more recently in a commercial. In those moments I finally felt seen. Seeing someone like me being represented in a positive manner in a movie or commercial reassured me that it is okay to be who I am.
I wish I could have seen people like me in marketing and the media at a younger age so I could’ve accepted myself sooner, and my goal is to start creating the marketing I needed for kids that are going through what I experienced. I wish others around me could’ve seen more people like me in marketing and the media and known that people like me are still normal, and perhaps they would have been more accepting of me. Now that I have the power to leverage imagery that is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community to help people like me and those around them, hopefully, I can make it easier for people to accept themselves and others like me.
How to Genuinely Support the LGBTQ+ Community Through Marketing
As allies of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m sure you’re wondering how else your company can show your support for the community throughout Pride month. There are millions of ways that you can show your support not just during this month, but year-round. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- If you want to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community this month, I challenge you to show it year-round.
- Create opportunities to consistently showcase LGBTQ+ individuals and imagery in your marketing and branding materials.
- Donate to charities that help the LGBTA+ community like The Trevor Project, or volunteer at local Pride events.
- Seek advice or training from DEI professionals to ensure that your culture is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Sharing one post about Pride month or adding rainbows to products usually doesn’t feel like enough. Try sharing stories from your community or team to create a deeper, more intentional, and genuine campaign.
Inclusive Marketing with The Insight Studio
One of our missions at The Insight Studio is to make marketing more inclusive. We love working with companies who are driven by a mission to improve the world, and we’re here to help you do it through creative thoughtful marketing campaigns with diverse representation. If you’re looking for more ways to ensure that your workplace and marketing are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, reach out to hear how we can help.
The Insight Studio has teammates with valuable experiences studying and working with DEI initiatives. Our team is passionate about actively making marketing more inclusive, however, we disclose that we are not currently certified professionals in DEI.