The seismic events of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the
eruption of outrage and ongoing social unrest following the death of George
Floyd have challenged employers in terms of how to meaningfully acknowledge the
Pride Month of June, according to new data from the Institute for Corporate
As it has with very nearly every facet of our lives,
COVID-19 has significantly disrupted Pride Month and the ways in which
employers observe it. While most larger organizations (those employing
>1,000) that participated in last week’s pulse survey formally recognize
Pride Month each June (79%), they have been compelled by the pandemic to evolve
their activities, mostly to create new, virtual alternatives to the usual
exuberant in-person events such as parades and festivals that Pride Month has
become synonymous with.
Companies are creating their own digital events this year as
well as joining virtual Pride Month events hosted by other organizations.
Others have made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone their
participation in external Pride Months events.
Some ideas on virtual events that were shared by survey
But many employers are grappling with how
to acknowledge the death of George Floyd and the growing focus on social
justice, inclusion, and diversity, and how to do so respectfully. This has been
a consideration in many organizations’ Pride Month observances, and it’s clear
from some of the write-in comments of survey participants that employers are
relying on employee resources groups (ERGs, BRGs, etc.) to advise and help
guide their responses.
“Our ERGs are
collaborating to have virtual town halls and other events to explore
intersectionality of topics,” one wrote. “We are holding virtual events to
celebrate Pride Month and allyship. But we will also hold events and
discussions alongside that about Black Lives Matter, sparked by recent events,”
Indeed, most larger organizations (60%) reported that they
intended to acknowledge and express solidarity with social justice movements
sch as Black Lives Matter in their Pride Month activities and 38% will focus
deliberately on overlap issues of systemic inequity and intersectionality.
But there is a definite
need for more visible leadership; many comments mentioned lack of executive
sponsorship or involvement, especially with respect to virtual inclusion events.
Wrote one survey respondent: “We’re not asking for more funding, but we are
asking for support from leadership. It’s not just the job of the ERGs. It’s
time to step up.”