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this is to look at the ethical obligations of businesses in the context of contemporary social issues.
Consider the context of Pride. Pride is the global celebration of LGBTQA+ people and identity politics. LGBTQA+ is usually defined as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Asexual. The + signifies that the movement is not limited to people who identify themselves using these terms. In addition to this sociopolitical statement, Pride has also become big business for nonprofit and for-profit companies alike. In recent years, companies ranging from MAC Cosmetics to Target to Alaska Airlines (and countless others across all business sectors) have launched campaigns to support Pride celebrations and market their products and services. This week, we will discuss the ethical implications of participation in these campaigns.
How are we to judge whether a company’s latching onto Pride events to boost their own public image and profits is ethical or not? In addition to marketing Pride-themed products and services, many companies will pay to have a float or group march in the parades. One parade organizer said, “It wasn’t sponsored by Target, it was sponsored by the people, and that’s really what Pride is all about. Now we see lots of brands have made a calculated decision to align themselves with our cause. It’s a cheap shot to slap a rainbow on merchandise, to build the flashiest corporate-sponsored float in the parade, simply because you know you will profit from the event.” As this example illustrates, some Pride supporters and organizers feel that businesses who have historically ignored the LGBTQA+ community are now trying to cash in on the politics of struggles of LGBTQA+ people.
On the other hand, businesses also make the case for support and equality. In one example, Wells Fargo provided $50 million of support to roughly 60 Pride celebrations nationwide. “We just see it as the right thing to do,” said Kali Caldwell, senior communications consultant at Wells Fargo. The corporate sponsorship of Pride events and the increase in Pride-related merchandise in stores help promote visibility of LGBTQA+ people and the sociopolitical causes of the community.”
For purposes of this discussion, assume one of the following roles and tell us how you would approach participating in a Pride event:
- Owner of a gay bar
- CEO of a major tech company
- Soft drink marketer
- Employee in an insurance office
- Your real job