#ResistMarch has replaced the annual LGBTQ+ Pride Parade on Sunday, June 11th to highlight the challenges that confront the LGBTQ+ community. Historically, the pride parade has been supported by corporations that want to get their brands in front of hundreds of thousands of people who line the route.
However, now that we’ve returned our parade to its roots as a demonstration for basic human rights, corporate America won’t let their employees show up. A certain executive from a television network, told me “We don’t do marches. We will not encourage our employees to march. If they do, they may not wear our logo.” Let me get this straight. Your employees can show up to probably the most partisan activity in modern America. the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. But when it’s time to march for human rights, we’ve crossed some line? Clearly you don't know why pride was started.
This begs more than a few questions: When is the right time to stand up, step forward and say human rights matter? Is it controversial to stand with immigrants afraid for their lives? Is it controversial to stand with dreamers that don’t want their families ripped apart? Is it controversial to stand with Muslims who want to live peacefully in the country they call home, a country that has been a beacon of freedom of religious expression since its founding? Is it controversial to stand with the LGBTQ+ community that hopes its hard-won rights remain intact? I say it is not controversial. Marching for human rights is not a blue American ideal or a red American ideal. It’s a red, white and blue American ideal. It’s at the very heart of our founding principles; the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrines every American’s sacred rights to free speech, to peaceable assembly and to petition the government. Again, a march for freedom is not controversial, and for Americans especially, it’s not even a close call.
America has always been a world leader in human rights. Sitting on the sidelines is not leading. Waiting to see how the dust settles is not leading. As a corporation, your voice matters, and I encourage you to support us. As Dr. King reminded us, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
History is replete with stories of organizations and corporations that decided not to take sides while the employees whose service and the customers whose monies they rely upon were marginalized. Thinking that you can quietly sit out a movement while we buy your wares is short-sighted. Such thinking may protect your next quarterly earnings projection, but, in the long run, ignoring a substantial and loyal consumer base is not a winning proposition.
Make no mistake. We know who stood with us during good times, and we are paying close attention to those that abandon us in a time of need. American business and its leaders are uniquely positioned to send a powerful signal and set the tone for our country. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, did just that when he pulled his company out of Georgia and Indiana because of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Similarly, PayPal canceled a planned expansion in North Carolina in the wake of its passage of HB 2, the so-called ‘bathroom bill,’ which also led the NCAA to pull future athletic events from the state. Like Starbucks’ support for marriage equality, these organizations understand the importance of doing the right thing even when there’s risk involved. Isn’t that what they teach in business school? No risk, no reward.
Corporate executives lead every day. Now is the time to leverage your voice and your brand to do the right thing. Stand with human rights and invite your employees to stand proudly on the right side of history. Join us on the obvious arc towards more tolerance and more freedom. We understand this feels uncomfortable but giant leaps of faith are when the magic happens. Circling back to one of Dr. King’s profound lessons, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Please don’t leave us now when now is when we need you most.
Join us at Hollywood and Highland on Sunday June 11 at 8AM.