Many chambers of commerce are looking for ways to celebrate diversity so that they can be more inclusive as the Voice of Business — all businesses. Since June is National Pride Month, if you want to reach out to and connect with your LGBTQ+ community and business owners, you can take a cue from these chamber of commerce examples.
At the original publishing date of this article, some options may be more feasible in a short timeline, while others are important to start planning now for next year.
Chamber Pride Month Events Ideas
Here are a few ideas on celebrating Pride Month from chambers and other groups across the country.
Pride Parades and Celebrations
Parades are a good way to bring attention to groups, to connect people from different communities and to offer interesting sponsorship opportunities. Do your research to make sure that other groups are not already well into planning or have a tradition of running a parade. Parades take advanced planning, especially with permits or road closures, so plan for next year if an event is needed in your community.
Keep in mind your Pride parade or event needn’t be adult-only. Many communities are embracing family-friendly parades or educational activities. The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Sciences is in its fourth year of hosting a family celebration.
The Dunedin Chamber of Commerce is hosting its Inaugural Pride Week with a host of activities celebrating diversity. In honor of the events, they created a website and a very well-designed modification of their chamber logo.
Some of the activities include:
- a Gay-la
- a pool party
- a flag raising in front of City Hall
- a golf cart parade (such small “floats” need to be very creative)
- and a lot more
Since there is also a tourism draw for excellent Pride celebrations, you may want to consider partnering with a hotel like Dunedin did and making them the “official” hotel of the celebration.
The South Tampa Chamber is hosting a Pride Happy Hour in conjunction with the Tampa LGBT Chamber of Commerce and three other local chambers. In addition to networking and celebration, they will have fun photo ops and door prizes.
If you’re short on planning time, find out if you can support and enhance an existing event.
Golf Tournament Outing
A golf tournament or outing can be a fun way to enjoy the beautiful weather that most of us experience in June. Chambers can get creative with encouraging themed golf cart decorations, specifying LGBTQ+ businesses for event or hole sponsorships, and photo ops at these events. Or consider other versions of golf (such as mini-golf) to make the event more inclusive outside of experienced golfers.
In 2021, the LGBTQ+ Business Cross-Country Pride Event involved a multi-chamber networking collaboration that brought together LGBTQ+ and allied business owners, employees, and chamber stakeholders from 18 different NGLCC affiliates across the country.
Large co-hosted events can make for interesting conversations with sponsors who want to expand their visibility across a wider region.
Pride Month is the ideal time to bring in a speaker on diversity or building diverse teams in the workforce. Many businesses have questions on the best way to recruit more diverse employees and how to make sure they feel connected and welcomed within the company.
There are a lot of learning opportunities available such as hosting webinars on topics like bullying prevention, becoming an ally to peers, supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, and how co-workers can understand gender in the workplace.
Take the opportunity to promote the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce by sharing research such as this UCLA School of Law paper which shows how LGBTQ+ friendly and supportive workplaces can have better employee satisfaction and beneficial business outcomes.
Pride festivals are about bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate who they are. It’s can be a day-long or multi-day celebration of all ages, sexual orientations and identities. Festivals can be a light-hearted time to bring up the topics of diversity and inclusion and set the tone for your community’s acceptance of all voices.
Important Considerations Before Creating Pride Events
If you’re new to hosting Pride events, keep the following in mind:
- Be inclusive. Make sure everyone knows they are invited. These are celebratory events. All are welcome.
- Seek experienced advice. Connect with a local LGBTQ+ chamber, Pride organization or other group to advise you on what types of events or activities would be the most supportive and helpful. If you or your staff don’t have a lot of friends or family who are LGBTQ+, you may have a hard time understanding the challenges the community faces or might unintentionally create something that is offensive or unhelpful.
- This isn’t a time for business competition. If you have a local Pride Chamber or LGBTQ+ Chamber, talk to them before you start planning. Think about co-hosting. This isn’t a competition; your LGBTQ+ members are likely to join both. Reach out and be inclusive when you plan to celebrate diversity.
- Explore tourism opportunities. Don’t forget the tourism aspect of the events you are hosting. LGBTQ+ events are high motivators for travel. Be aware that your event has the potential to draw people from a much wider geography than other events. Make it easy for people to attend by working with local businesses on tourism packages and sponsorships. It’s a way everyone can win. The LGBTQ+ population in the US has an estimated $917 million in buying power.
- Understand the demographics. Like any event, you want to consider your audience. Yes, some attendees will be young looking for a party, but you may also have an equal number of older attendees. When creating multiple events think about what will appeal to each. For instance, older revelers may not want to party but instead want to connect over business ideas not just during Pride Month. Think about demographics when brainstorming event ideas just like you would any other chamber events. If you’re pledging to embrace diversity, know that the LGBTQ+ community is diverse as well.
- Encourage LGBTQ+ friendly businesses and listen to those who are less open. It’s important to recognize that your chamber members may not all support Pride events. Because of this, prepare for potential complaints by listening to concerns while also reminding them of the value of diversity and inclusion for all businesses. Encourage your most supportive business if they want to designate themselves as Pride-friendly businesses and consider a publicly marketed list, door/window clings, or flags/banners.
- Be genuinely committed to the value of diversity. You want your Pride events and your celebration of diversity to be inclusive and welcoming and authentic. Educate yourself and your team so that you don’t fall into “rainbow washing,” which is when a brand paints itself in a rainbow in order to draw in more dollars. If you want to celebrate diversity, do so in all parts of your operations, not just in the month of June. The best way to do this is to truly understand the meaning of valuing, welcoming and including all members of the community so that everyone is strengthened and supported in building their businesses
June is National Pride Month and it can be a wonderful time to highlight more diverse businesses and groups. It’s also a time to work on collaborations with other chambers and networking groups. But most of all, it’s a moment to showcase and reinforce your chamber’s support of businesses — all businesses — and of everyone in your community.