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How to support the LGBTQ+ community as an online business

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community involves more than just changing your logo to a rainbow version, like many companies do during Pride Month. To support the LGBTQ+ community as a business, you don’t have to commit much of your time to be a genuine supporter, though the more you can do the better.

Online businesses can support the community in many ways, and below I’ve described just some of them.

While the simplest ways of supporting the LGBTQ+ community involve purchasing from LGBTQ+ businesses, mentoring LGBTQ+ business owners, and reviewing LGBTQ+ products, being consistently supportive promotes visibility and awareness to more people.

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community involves more than just adding a flag to your social media accounts.

Ways to support the LGBTQ+ community

There are many ways for an online business to support the LGBTQ+ community. Before committing to any of the suggestions below, ask yourself:

  • Am I trying to meaningfully support the LGBTQ+ community or am I trying to boost my marketing?
  • Do I understand the struggles of LGBTQ+ people?
  • Can I commit to supporting the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year, not just for one month?

If the answers to these questions are broadly negative, you’re in danger of pinkwashing or ‘rainbow capitalism’. Revisit your motivation behind supporting the LGBTQ+ community and educate yourself on equality and diversity before going any further.

Ready to commit to supporting the LGBTQ+ community? Here are some of the best ways to support our community. Try to commit to more than just one to make an impact.

Post LGBTQ+ news and awareness days on your social media channels

The easiest way to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community is to post on your business’s social media channels. Annual awareness, solidarity, and pride days can be added to your content calendar so you never forget when to post about your support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Even sharing positive LGBTQ+ news on social media can support people. Keep informed of LGBTQ+ events in your industry and share interesting advice blogs and articles relevant to your audience.

In the UK, there are three big LGBTQ+ events to remember:

  • LGBT+ History Month UK in February
  • Pride Month in June
  • Trans Awareness Week in November

You don’t have to post for every awareness day going, but try to commit to important days that will support your audience or customers. Maybe you sell a product that appeals to non-binary people, so celebrating International Non-Binary People’s Day is a great way of making your customers feel seen. Or you have a service supporting trans people, so you celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Highlight LGBTQ+ staff and events

Just because an LGBTQ+ business isn’t owned by an LGBTQ+ person doesn’t mean they don’t have any ways of outwardly supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

If any staff (whether employees, volunteers, or contractors) are comfortable with sharing that they identify as LGBTQ+, make sure to take their advice. By working together, you can make the business and its marketing as safe and inclusive as possible.

Perhaps they’d even be open to sharing their story on your business blog or social media. Ask them what your business does well in supporting them and the LGBTQ+ community. Don’t be afraid to ask how you can improve as well.

You should also highlight any events that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. Maybe you’re hosting an online talk on how to support LGBTQ+ staff, or you’re planning an online networking event for Pride.

Educate yourself and your staff

Educating yourself and any staff or volunteers on LGBTQ+ inclusion isn’t just important for your customers, it’s also important for your business.

Equality and diversity training can teach you inclusivity best practices and help your business thrive. Make a list of ideal training events or courses you’d like your business to take, focusing on training that benefits the people involved in your business and for any gaps.

If you know you and your team need more awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, make sure to schedule in a course or webinar as soon as possible. Webinars and online courses with certificates are best for ensuring everyone processes as much as possible. If you can all attend at the same time, that’s even better.

Diversify Now provides LGBT+ business training workshops that help businesses understand and support employees, customers, and clients.

When working alone, attending webinars and reading blog posts regularly will keep you up to date on inclusivity. Apply what you learn to your marketing and processes.

Host inclusive events

Whether your business regularly hosts events or plans to host a one-off event, ensuring your event is inclusive will attract more attendees. There are many layers to hosting an inclusive event, but for the LGBTQ+ community here are some top tips:

  • Have a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination and harassment
  • Research how to ensure your event can be a safe space for LGBTQ+ people
  • Add pronouns to event sign-ups and provide pronoun stickers at in-person events
  • Introduce yourself at the event with your name and pronouns

Create an inclusive environment

By creating an inclusive environment, you can help the LGBTQ+ community feel safe and seen by your business. This is especially important for online events, but any online business can be more inclusive by:

  • Using gender-neutral language
  • Adding pronouns and/or gender-neutral titles to accounts
  • Supporting inclusive events

Using gender-neutral language, such as using they/them/their pronouns when talking about people, buyer personas, and mascots, is a small step that includes everyone. Unless your audience is exclusively women or men, having a gender-neutral mascot demonstrates that your business is welcoming of everyone.

If customers need to sign up for an account on your website or need to write in their address for deliveries, many forms ask for a title. Include gender-neutral titles such as ‘Mx.’, or forgo the titles entirely.

Adding an option for pronouns can also make people feel more comfortable, and this is even more important for events, interview or guest post request forms, and more. Always check someone’s pronouns before referring to them!

Even if you don’t host your own events, try to support inclusive events from others. A business partner will appreciate you reposting the marketing for their Pride event, and your customers will also appreciate your support of Pride events.

Be active advocates for the LGBTQ+ community

Being active advocates is a must for the LGBTQ+ community. You can do this either by raising funds and donating to LGBTQ+ charitable organisations or by using your voice and platform to support the community.

Some great ways of raising funds for LGBTQ+ organisations include:

Offer discounts to the LGBTQ+ community

Offering discounts to the LGBTQ+ community can support people who are struggling with money and make them feel that their custom is important to your business.

I do this by providing a free website proofreading service every February – this is my way of giving back to the LGBTQ+ business community during LGBT+ History Month.

You don’t need to offer a completely free service or product, but providing a discount shows solidarity and care to your customers. B2B service discounts support other LGBTQ+ businesses and raise one another up.

Product discounts are a great way to help the LGBTQ+ community save money. If you don’t have Pride-specific products, consider what benefits people the most and add a new variation specific for the discount. Beware pinkwashing marketing though: don’t be superficial, and make sure you’re supporting the community in other ways throughout the year.

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