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Navigating Generational Shifts: The Fight for Consistent Corporate Allyship in a Changing Sociopolitical Landscape #🌈Pride

By Georgia Antonia Lewis

As a recent UCLA graduate and a young woman entering the workforce, I find the trend of diminishing corporate support for Pride Month both troubling and fascinating. This phenomenon reflects the turbulent and extreme generational shifts in the sociopolitical climate of the United States. Over the years, our nation has experienced significant swings between conservative and liberal ideologies, from Ronald Reagan's conservative era to Barack Obama's progressive administration, followed by the populism of Donald Trump and the current efforts of Joe Biden to address national divisions. As a member of Generation Z, I have grown up in a rapidly evolving society with direct access to social media, witnessing this nation reflect on these shifts firsthand. This trend affects not only the LGBTQ+ community but also sends a broader message about the values our society chooses to uphold as we navigate the changing times.

As someone just starting my professional journey, this “wavering” trend makes me question the kind of workplace environment I will enter. Will companies still champion diversity and inclusion when it truly matters, or will they cave under pressure? The support of the corporate world is crucial in creating safe, inclusive, and supportive workplaces. When companies withdraw their public support, it undermines the internal policies and cultures that protect and uplift LGBTQ+ employees. 

Forbes' Conor Murray reports that companies like Bud Light, Nike, and Target are scaling back their LGBTQ-related marketing efforts in 2024 after facing conservative backlash in 2023 (Forbes Magazine). For example, Bud Light sales have remained flat over a year after facing a conservative boycott due to a partnership with influencer Dylan Mulvaney. AB InBev, the parent company, reported overall global sales of $14.5 billion. However, U.S. sales dropped by 9.1% in the January-March 2024 period, with a 13.7% decline in sales to retailers, mainly due to a decrease in Bud Light's volume (USA Today).

While Bud Light is focusing on sports partnerships, Nike has avoided Pride posts on social media. Despite this trend, some brands continue to support Pride events in less visible ways, reflecting a cautious response to political pressure. Additionally, a recent Vox article highlights marketing professor Joanna Schwartz’s observation of a “near full-scale retreat” from corporate Pride support (Vox). For years, Pride Month campaigns have promoted inclusion and celebrated diversity, providing crucial visibility and validation for LGBTQ+ identities.

The conservative backlash and corporate retreat risk increasing stigma and discrimination, suggesting that LGBTQ+ rights and visibility are negotiable in the face of opposition. This is not just about merchandise; it’s about the message companies send when they prioritize avoiding controversy over supporting human rights. We need to hold companies accountable and remind them that true allyship requires consistency, not just during Pride Month but throughout the year. Support must be unwavering, especially in the face of adversity. As I step into the workforce, I am committed to working for and with organizations that understand this and stand by their principles, even when it’s difficult.

I first came out as queer when I moved to Los Angeles for school, and the city has been my home for the past four years. I'm excited to continue my journey here, both personally and professionally. Reflecting on corporate Pride trends and broader sociopolitical shifts, I find history’s tendency to repeat itself both eerie and hopeful. We must hold ourselves and our communities accountable, engage in important conversations, and stay vigilant yet hopeful about emerging trends. By doing so, we can ensure that corporations and legislators—those with money and power—are held accountable. This process of accountability begins at our own doorstep.

Here at JCI Worldwide—a firm made up primarily of Generation Z team members and guided by trusted Senior Advisors—I recognize our responsibility within the public relations, public affairs, and communications industry to hold ourselves and our communities to the highest standards of accountability and divulgence. By doing so, we can bridge generational gaps and remain actively engaged in current events. 

Accountability within JCI Worldwide can look like… 

  • Providing resources, time, and expertise to grassroots organizations working towards social justice, amplifying their efforts through our professional skills (see our Advocacy & Coalition Building Clients

  • Keeping track of local and national legislative changes, mobilizing our team and clients to support or oppose policies that impact our community (see our Podcast)

  • Encouraging open and honest conversations within our team and with our clients about the challenges we face and the solutions we seek will ensure that diverse voices are heard and respected (see our Stories)

  • And, leveraging our social media platforms to spread awareness, organize events, and call out injustices, making sure our communication is impactful and reaches a wide audience (see our Instagram

By taking these concrete steps, we can ensure that our corporations and legislators—those with money and power—are held accountable. Together, we can drive real, sustainable change and maintain a vigilant yet hopeful outlook on emerging trends.   

There is hope, and I can feel it…Happy #Pride 🌈!


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