By Gloris Trujillo
October was LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) History Month, which is different from LGBT Pride Month celebrated every June. Let’s learn a little bit about the history behind these dates. Why are they important? How can we communicate effectively with this community? What brands have done it successfully?
How are these dates different?
Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a key event for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
LGBT History Month, established in 1994, celebrates the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members in the community. These commemorative dates might celebrate different achievements of the LGBTQ community, but they both work to achieve equality for their members.
Why is this important for a future PR professional?
As PR professionals, we need to know what is happening in the world to develop effective communications strategies. Understanding what is happening will help us to create ways to help our clients stay relevant in spaces where our target audiences are present.
How to communicate effectively?
Dr. Ciszek, assistant professor of public relations at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted a study to understand how to best communicate with the LGBT community. Her findings suggest that when building relationships with diverse publics, these are some important factors to build trust from sexual and gender minorities:
1. Cultural competency: This includes education — having knowledge and insights about the lived experiences of this community to create campaigns and messages that resonate with the audience.
2. Organizational congruence: What are the companies actually doing for their LGBT members? The organizational changes to address the LGBT community need to start internally and then extend out externally. In addition, those internal and external efforts need to be consistent.
3. Authenticity: As in any successful campaign and messaging effort, authenticity plays a key role in building relationships and trust. This factor is also closely related to the organizational congruency.
4. Stakeholder empowerment: As noted by Ciszek (2019), “Organizations wanting to develop relations with LGBTQ publics need to be an ally and advocate for sexual and gender minorities, using organizational resources and power to make space for historically marginalized groups.”
Wells Fargo doing things right with the LGBT community
October was also PRSA Diversity Month, and we assisted the PRSA Alabama Diversity Symposium where the LGBTQ panel mentioned Wells Fargo as one of the companies that they — as part of the community — think are doing things right. Therefore, I went home and searched for some more information about Wells Fargo and its LGBT initiatives. First of all, the company has an LGBT Resource Center on its website ... great start, no?
According to its website, part of its strategy includes the Accredited Domestic Partnership AdvisorSM (ADPA)® program, which “address[es] the financial needs and considerations of domestic partners.” Wells Fargo offers “financial education for LGBT-owned businesses through our longtime affiliation with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and support for many local LGBT business organizations.” This action goes back to being authentic, but also doing something that aligns with your company’s values and goals.
Wells Fargo has a resource group, the PRIDE Team Member Network, which offers “its members professional development opportunities, mentoring, leadership engagement and opportunities to be part of the LGBT community outreach initiatives.” This is an example of organizational congruency and stakeholder empowerment.
Can you think of any other brands or organizations that are doing things right to address the LGBT community? Let me know your thoughts using @GlorisTrujillo #PRDiversity