In recent years corporates have become increasingly under pressure to take a stand on issues that are important to their customers and employees.
No longer can companies hide behind an anonymous brand image, exempt from standing up for the little guy; we want the companies we buy from, or work for, to share our values.
Brand values and workplace culture are the two indicators of whether our personal values are aligned with those of a corporate entity. Of late, these values are being seriously tested. Companies that have made a commitment to diversity and inclusion are being asked to take a stand on significant events like the Brexit result, Trump's presidency and the rise of right-wing politics in Europe.
Diversity issues have come to afore on both sides of the Atlantic. The politics of division, playing on fears, mistrust, racism, homophobia and misogyny, are forcing corporates to also take a side. Many employees are worried about the implications of Brexit and the new incumbent at the White House, not just on migrant workers, but also on the LGBT+ community, women and minorities.
Some companies are speaking out in support of their workers. For example, global corporates such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Goldman Sachs have all made it clear that their corporate values are not aligned with President Trump's executive order on inbound migration.
Recent events may also act as a catalyst for corporates to talk more openly about diversity and inclusion; certainly employees and consumers in marginalised groups want this. When a company proactively promotes D&I, it engenders loyalty from both employees and customers.
Rise In Support For Pride
The past few years has also seen a rise in the number of corporates supporting events such as Pride in London. Sponsorship income for both London and New York Pride has substantially grown - in London by 250% since 2013 - and more and more corporates are taking part in the Parade year on year.
I'm delighted that this year PwC have become new major sponsors of Pride in London; I know that our people take great pride and encouragement in such public demonstrations of the firm's commitment to LGBT+ inclusion.
PwC have marched in the Parade for five years and during that time is has been noticeable how many more corporates are taking part. Increased support for Pride in London has reflected cultural changes and a greater acceptance of the LGBT+ community; certainty in diverse cities like London and New York. However, I think that 2017 will see even greater participation, not least because of a desire to stand up to the politics of division, and publically support LGBT+ employees and the wider community.
2016 and 2017 has seen many people taking to the streets in the US and Europe to get their voices heard, some commentators are even heralding this as the start of a 'new protest movement'. Part of this increase in public protest appears to me to be driven by a desire to support those that are feeling marginalised - to stand side by side - as much as it is about putting pressure on elected officials to take action.
Of course, the Pride movement has its origins in protest, although in recent years it has become more of a celebration. However if those gains we have made are under threat, as the shift towards more right wing politics suggests, Pride in London and other events could become even more important to individuals and corporates that want to stand up for diversity. As such, this year's Pride in London in July could see even greater numbers of participants and visitors to the Parade, as well as more vocal support from corporates.
Although our changing political and ethical landscape is worrying for the LGBT+ community, it does present corporates with an opportunity to make a real difference to their employees by taking a stand. Alongside proactive diversity and inclusion strategies in the workplace, Pride in London could be one way of doing this.