And while Pride month is associated with carnivals and celebrating tolerance and acceptance, current events also remind us that that change comes from taking a stand.
The genesis of Pride month is no exception. The first march on 28 June 1970 was held to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots – a series of demonstrations in New York – and to concentrate the efforts of the LGBTQI+ community on their human rights and help establish places for gay men and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without being arrested.
We pride ourselves on being a diverse and tolerant business, but there is still much to be done to make it a tolerant and inclusive world.
Here’s a few ways we’re supporting inclusion for our LGBTQI+ colleagues and wider community this year.
Partnering with Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline
This year, in the UK & Ireland we’ve partnered with Switchboard, an LGBT+ Helpline who provide services 365 days a year, to help raise awareness of the support they offer.
Created by our Shopper Marketing team, we've launched a joint campaign with Superdrug to create limited edition Pride products for Lynx, Vaseline, Simple and Close Up and come together with a joint donation of £50,000 to fund the helpline for the rest of 2020.
For the first time, this year we've included Switchboard’s helpline number on our Pride packs as well as on a TV advert for Close Up which features our Pride collection and will be broadcast next month – helping to raise awareness of Switchboard and the life changing support they offer to people across the UK.
To continue to raise awareness of Switchboard and show continued support for the LGBTQ+ community beyond Pride, these products will be available throughout the year, not just during Pride celebrations.
Celebrating Pride virtually
Whilst this year we’ve spent more time apart, our LGBTQI+ network brought us all closer together with virtual pride celebrations.
Spread across Pride month in June, the network arranged a wide range of colourful events including bingo, baking and yoga sessions as well as lunch and learn sessions with Switchboard to learn more about the charities history and with Clifford Chance to share a session on inclusive LGBTQI+ language with colleagues.
Signing the Declaration of Amsterdam
Alongside our online celebrations to mark Pride – we’re taking action. We’re taking a stand. We’re signing our name. We’re working to make our LGBTQI+ colleagues and consumers as proud of us as we are of them. Here are six initiatives we’re supporting.
On 19 June, our CEO Alan Jope will sign the Declaration of Amsterdam – a global statement of support for LGBTQI+ rights. “The Declaration of Amsterdam has a strong symbolic value for us,” says Frank Galestien, who works in Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment team and is organising some of our Virtual Pride events in the Netherlands. “Signing the Declaration is something that makes us extremely proud. It links clearly to Unilever’s purpose to allow everyone to bring their whole self to the workplace. This is a very important signal on how much inclusivity is valued,” he adds.
Sense-checking our resources with Stonewall
Stonewall works with institutions and organisations to create inclusive and accepting cultures. They will work alongside Unilever to audit our policies and procedures. We will be able to access their resources and training and participate in their Global Workplace Equality indices to benchmark how we are progressing on LGBTQI+ inclusion in our workplace.
Promoting inclusion in our business and beyond
We’ve joined Open for Business, a coalition of leading global companies to show we mean business on taking action on LGBT+ inclusion globally.
Launching a proUd network of employees
We’re introducing a new Global Employee Resource Group called proUd. Its mission statement is clear. “We will be a beacon of inclusion for the LGBTQI+ community and allies, amplifying their voice in society and at Unilever, to enable them to be their true, authentic selves,” says founding member and executive sponsor Alex Owens, who is a VP in Unilever’s Market Analytics team.
“We hope members will be open to helping us shape its objectives and events. Everyone is welcome to join, whether they identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community or are an ally. And if people want to seek a support network in confidence – we will respect that too.”
Continuing to listen, learn and bring change
Events will also be held to promote understanding and support diversity and inclusion throughout the year. These include a 21-day Allyship Challenge sponsored by the US team to encourage allies to be visible and impact change, and a training session in the UK to support people who want to ally and have more open conversations.
All these initiatives are just the beginning. Unilever will not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination. Our diversity as people is what makes us stronger. Inclusion for all is what will make us better.