This post was prompted by a question I received from an Australian reader of this blog. After reading my book he reached out to me with the following statement –
Thanks for creating this – lots of hard work have produced a great result. One thing I am curious about – dealing with the open or often concealed hostility and opposition from Christians & who oppose all things gay. It can be a reason for some businesses to avoid promoting a positively gay-friendly attitude. Interested in your thoughts on this… Ken
For starters, Ken – I appreciate you getting the book and taking the time to reach out with this question. This is a tricky question to answer without offending someone but as with everything I do, I remain 100% authentic and transparent to who I am, so here it goes!
For anyone who is considering or has considered reaching out to the LGBT community you must first weigh the pros and cons that are unique to your own individual business. I am a proponent of companies reaching out to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. If you cannot do it in that way, then you shouldn’t be doing it at all. It may seem a bit harsh but it’s the truth.
The LGBT community is ultra aware of what a company is or is not doing for the community, LGBT employees and LGBT consumers. So if you are a business owner who has a high population of Christian (or anyone in opposition of LGBT – I am not specifically picking on Christian’s just using this group because it was part of the question) then you need to evaluate if it is worth it to you. If you move forward with an LGBT outreach plan despite your strong base of customers being in total opposition then you are likely going to piss off some, but you may also be educating others in the process. It’s a matter of what you feel comfortable in.
I would first get to the bottom of why you want to reach out to the LGBT community in the first place. Do you have a special place in your heart for LGBT folks? Is there a family member or friend who is LGBT in your life? OR do you see the statistics around the LGBT community in terms of brand loyalty and consumer buying power and want to get a piece of the pie? If your answer is the latter then you should stop reading right here. This is not what I am here to teach you about.
If you are the former then you need to decide whether or not potentially upsetting a large base of your customers is worth it to you. Within the LGBT community you cannot whisper in the shadows ‘We are gay-friendly’ and hope that LGBT folks purchase from you. You need to make it clear that you are supporters of the LGBT community and do things that in turn support the community. By doing it the ‘right way,’ which I call the authentic and transparent way – you would be alerting all of those who are in opposition to it. So the core questions to you are – does the LGBT community mean enough to you to sacrifice some of your business? And are you willing to put your whole self out there and being known as a supporter of the LGBT community regardless of what others think?
I am a firm believer that there is plenty of business for everyone. If you are truly a supporter of the LGBT community and have a product or service that you feel could benefit LGBT folks, I would take the chance and go out on a limb and promote your product or service to the community. The community is a loyal bunch and you will establish a positive reputation and name for yourself within the community that could eventually become what you are known for. You just need to understand doing this requires a commitment to doing it authentically and understand that you will inevitably piss off a few people in the process, but to me, it would all be worth it in the end.
Does this answer your question Ken? I hope so. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts – I am all for keeping the conversation and dialogue going. 😉