opinion & features
One way that businesses show they welcome GLBT customers is the rainbow sticker on the door. The problem with this is that this sticker can mean anything from “I’m a business who actively supports the GLBT community” to “My cousin put this on my door 12 years ago and I can’t remember what it means.” While I encourage businesses to show their pride in this way, consumers need to look for other clues to find out just how friendly a business is.
A good way to find out how a business feels about its GLBT customers is to look at how it treats its employees. This might sound like it would be hard to find out. But just ask around and you’ll discover that friends and family will have some stories (good and bad) to share.
RBC is an example of a business that is wholly committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce. It has a specific GLBT-focused recruitment website, and is a founding partner of Pride at Work. Locally, it has a GLBT-employee group with more than 400 members across the Prairies. It’s safe to assume that business that takes this much pride in its GLBT employees, will be sure to makes its GLBT customers feel at home.
Another sign to look for is how out and proud a business is in its marketing. Many businesses will run ads with same sex couples in Outwords or Xtra, or have a separate website for its GLBT visitors. But there are those businesses who don’t shy away from promoting the fact that they are proud to serve GLBT customers. One example is Tourism Winnipeg’s promotion of Winnipeg’s Pride Festival through its social media channels.
One of the best and most visible way to identify GLBT-friendly businesses is to notice those that financially support community events. Pay attention to what businesses are sponsoring fundraisers for Rainbow Resource Centre. Take a look at who is a member of LAMBDA: Manitoba’s GLBT Business Chamber. Notice what businesses are sponsoring and participating in Pride. Also keep in mind the businesses that are there to support large events but also support smaller, perhaps lesser events as well - from sport to the arts. Some take this support to another level by sharing not just dollars, but volunteers, skills, products/resources and networks. These are all businesses that are serious about showing they are proud of Winnipeg’s GLBT community.
One company that really stands out as shining in all three of these areas is Delta Winnipeg. The Delta Hotel has done a great job ensuring that GLBT employees feel at home. And they invest significantly in training for all employees to ensure that all guests feel welcome, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It actively promotes being a GLBT-friendly hotel on its website and is Winnipeg’s only TAG-approved hotel. The Delta is consistently present at community events. It is again a major sponsor of Pride Winnipeg. It is hosting the gala dinner for Rainbow Resource Centre and is an active member of LAMBDA. The Delta has certainly earned its reputation as a GLBT-friendly hotel.
By considering how a business treats its employees, how out and proud it is, and how actively it gives back, you can quickly see just how GLBT-friendly it really is. So, next time you’re looking for somewhere to spend your hard-earned cash, take a minute to think about how much that business values you.
- Mark Schollenberg is president of LAMBDA: Manitoba’s LGBT Business Chamber and a Commercial Account Manager with RBC Royal Bank.