Article (SEPTEMBER 2023)
A choice a business needs to make, because it’s not assigned at birth.
Many business owners have asked the question: “should my company support LGBTQIA+?
This is an exciting subject because it challenges major social norms. As a business and environmental technologist I write about trends that affect companies, society and nature.
In order to be constructive, let’s review what I have written in an objective manner because that is how I have intended it, and I can assure you that after reading this you will not suddenly start singing Abba or want to wear high heels, which by the way were first invented for men.
There are miserable levels of knowledge on what LGBTQIA+ is. I identify as a ‘lazy gay’ which we can unpack another time, but my point is I learned a great deal in preparing for this article in spite of being part of the ‘community’. Everyone needs to take a moment to re-learn what they know about sexuality and gender, it’s really fascinating and a good business person does try to make decisions based on facts. The facts are that this subject is far more complex than two people with the same gender wanting to get married.
People don’t want to learn about LGBTQIA+ for a number of reasons, unfortunately this creates an environment for abuse and intolerance. The history of LGBTQIA+ is complicated and littered with extreme pain. It is humanities greatest ongoing genocide and oppression of a minority group.
I was once physically attacked on a street by a group of people who the police later found to live in a suburb called Rugby. In Court the State lawyer asked me why I thought the attack was a ‘gay bashing’, and how would my attackers know if I was gay because I was not wearing a dress. I realized that the levels of ignorance displayed by this young lawyer were a true reflection of societies overall naivety. Justice can never be achieved under these conditions. Taking a step back, and peering through the looking glass of science, ‘living things’ were not always two gender. Around 800 million years ago the first cluster of specialized cells began cooperating together and BAM we had a creature! It didn’t have a penis or vagina.
One could say it identified as non-binary. At some point during evolution it became more efficient to have two genders with the biological advantage of this being an effective way to prevent competition between the organelles of the parents. As for the actual organs that came with gender: over time we have had a ‘variety of penises’ and if you research you will stumble across penile spines, bones and some with two heads! The evidence we have at our disposal shows genders did not always have the same ‘gadgets’ and have been evolving for about 100 million years. I dared not research the vagina.
There are at least six biological sexes that are able to have a ‘fairly normal lifespan’. The main three you might know of are female, male, or intersex. Male and female are dominant because of their efficiency in reproduction, but study and you will find nature has had all imaginable variants.
Can there be love with LGBTQIA+? Love or ‘bonds’ between same sex creatures is observed throughout nature. There is a hypothesis that same-sex sexuality evolved by natural selection because it strengthened male to male alliances allowing low-rank males to reposition themselves in the group hierarchy and thereby increase their reproductive chances.
In an environment not dominated by masculinity things can diversify. As our society equalizes we will see evidence of this.
Love is something people struggle to describe, but from a scientific perspective it has many tell-tale signs and we can observe them or even do chemical and electrical tests to find them. Similar tell-tale signs are clear within the LGBTQIA+ community. Of course, love and sexual attraction are not mutually exclusive and scientists don’t know the precise origins of sexual orientation. The most common and accepted theory is that it may be a result of multifarious interplay with genetics, hormones and environmental influences. Given time and varied environments, it would be natural and possible to be attracted to a variety of people.
There is evidence of creatures able to physically change genders based on environmental circumstances. Humans are unable to do this and homosexuality might be a natural counter measure to this. It is also an effective mechanism to reduce over population.
In this age we have the scientific means to alter our bodies and sex. This is a new option available to us but does not mean it’s a new desire for humans, or a new feature in nature. A step further you can consider that people will merge with machines. Is this change natural? Do you think the evolution of living things was ever going to be bound to DNA or organic carbon life?
These concepts will be tested in my lifetime and will challenge everyone’s moral codes. Let’s get back to the subject of this article.
Business has a great deal to do with money so let’s talk about the pink Dollar or pink Rand! There is a ‘rumour’ that ‘pink money’ has obscene worth. The truth is it does. Some of the values I found during my research are extraordinary. The LGBTQIA+ do not necessarily earn more (although in some cases they do), they simply have more disposable income and ‘flamboyant’ spending habits. On these facts alone a business owner might decide to target them and give the idea of boycotting the LGBTQIA+ the middle finger and roll out a red carpet for them instead.
Each business owner can make their own decision to target the LGBTQIA+ as clients or not, but a business is also obliged to comply with the law of the land and in South Africa the law is clear, and to quote a tweet from Woolworths: “Every person has the right to dignity regardless of their identity – this is a fact enshrined in our constitution”. You cannot refuse to sell to LGBTQIA+.
It’s not up for debate. The question evolves to ‘do you wish to be law abiding and target new potential clients or not?’. During the week I wrote this article a friend of mind responded on Facebook and said one of the great things about the capitalist system is we get to decide if we trade with someone, and that he wishes both mine and their business well. My friend was responding to a post I made about me rejecting a potential client who wished to use a supplier of mine to promote a business that made ammunition for hunting. My response to that was “it is great to wish a business well’, but is it a well business?”
Consumers and business owners need to decide what a future ethical and sustainable company is. An observation is that most businesses that don’t engage with LGBTQIA+, don’t engage with much at all. Katy Perry said she stood for nothing and fell for everything, Roar!
Nothing scares the ‘present’ more than the ‘youth’ and the younger generation are only interested in supporting a ‘well business’.
What makes your business well?
Let’s say you are considering factoring the LGBTQIA+ into your business plans and want some points to ponder. I hope these help:
- As with any niche market, those who act first stand to gain the most.
- The trajectory of the LGBTQIA+ commercial influence has been on the incline, and in spite of the few pockets of disaster around the globe, their spend will shift from ‘impressive’ to ‘substantial’ within the next 20 years.
- Boycotts of any nature against a minority only result in negative ramifications for those who engage with them. There are lots of ‘case files’ available on that.
- Supporting the LGBTQIA+ is not a stance on everything their community stands for, it is a stance on supporting diversity and acceptance, the same core values that support religion and a person’s rights to dignity and equality. You either stand for these or you don’t.
- Some businesses do not engage with LGBTQIA+ because they do not know how to do it appropriately. Here are some tips:
- Learn the market. I have added a Pink Addendum to this article for this purpose.
- Do not engage in the practice of pink washing. Google that.
- Be all in, (not the closet). If you decide to go this route, be prepared to complete the journey because it is a mistake to change your stance half way down the line, one might accuse you of being a trans-business. (Excuse the pun).
- Be consistent. It’s not about a pride month or a parade. Equality and acceptance are a full year obligation.
- In 20 years or so the LGBTQIA+ community will be on equal political and social footing. What ‘we’ see today is the extreme phase (yes a phase), which is exactly what you should expect to see when a minority group are given space to express themselves after hundreds of years of persecution and loneliness. The community is trying to heel and find its place in the world. It will stabilise and become part of mainstream society. Don’t be surprised if we see LGBTQIA+ eventually simplifying itself to something like GSM which stands for “gender and sexual minorities” and all the ‘extra’ dialled back.
- No minority group spends more on leisure, travel, self-care, restaurants, entertainment, furniture and fashion than the LGBTQIA+. If you can be the business owner who finds a solution to incorporate so many types of people in business, advertising, news, sports, entertainment, or solve the ‘multi bathroom challenge’ you will secure a group of clients which will remain loyal for life.
- On the other side of the same coin, LGBTQIA+ make for exceptionally loyal and hardworking employees.
- While there are a few exceptions and a handful of celebrities, it is a sad fact that very few business owners who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community make a stronger case for their own minority.
If you decide to boycott LGBTQIA+, please ponder on the subject of hypocrisy and work through a scenario which excludes them. How do you see music, fashion, entertainment, art, food, décor, events, science, and even mathematics? The LGBTQIA+ have added tremendous economic, social, and even political value. Are you going to boycott these?
~ Unless you decide to continue reading with THE PINK ADDENDUM.
But wait, there is MORE!
Who is Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline?
Jean-Pierre is a South African Serial Entrepreneur, Published Author and Change Champion who has worked in over 300 types of industries in some capacity or another. His own online businesses have generated millions of Rands and involved sectors including Law, Web & App Development, Events & Entertainment, Property, Technical Services, Media and Tourism.
He has travelled to over 50 cities World-Wide, and is extremely active as a Business and Environmental Technologist.
Jean-Pierre is often asked to be a Guest Speaker on any variety of the many subjects he continuously studies and writes about.
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