This year, as we do every year, ILGA-Europe have worked with private companies who wish to support our work. But we don’t take every offer that comes our way. Here’s they why, how and what when it comes to partnering with corporates to enhance our vital work with activist organisations across Europe!
Pride season is a time when many companies seek to put LGBTI equality and inclusion front and centre, both internally and externally. It’s also a peak period of corporate support for Prides and other LGBTI groups, including ILGA-Europe. Pride season across Europe continues into September when EuroPride takes place in Malta, so we want to share some highlights of corporate support in 2023 in this blog.
Why do we collaborate with companies?
We are often asked about our collaborations with companies, how we go about them and why. One obvious reason for us to partner with corporates is that it brings vital funding for our work for LGBTI people’s safety, equality and freedom across the European and Central Asian regions. What’s more, this is unrestricted funding, which we can directly regrant to activist organisations in a way that gives LGBTI activists the help they need exactly when they need it, without them having to fill in huge amounts of paperwork that more bureaucratic funders need. This flexibility is particularly important in countries where LGBTI people are at risk.
Beyond funding, private sector partnerships also help raise awareness and bring messages about LGBTI inclusion to different people. As employers, companies contribute to creating inclusive workplaces for LGBTI employees, and in the outside world, they have an impact on the markets in which they operate.
What do we consider before working with a company?
ILGA-Europe’s corporate partnerships are guided by our private sector engagement policy, which sets out principles for working with companies. We look at, for example, the company’s track record on inclusive employment policies, and what it is doing in to foster inclusivity and equality in society. Even if a company still has some way to go, we believe a genuine, demonstrated commitment to advancing rights and inclusion is what matters. This year, as with every year, we have turned down partnership proposals from companies because they were not aligned with our aims or values.
What ways are companies supporting ILGA-Europe this Pride season?
Corporate support can take many different forms, from public-facing Pride campaigns and special edition products to internal awareness raising and tapping into employee giving programmes.
Our collaboration with VIA Outlets this year is a positive example of a brand-new partnership both raising funds and bringing messages of LGBTI equality to new audiences. In words of their CEO Otto Ambagtsheer, the company aims to “create a working and shopping environment that is inclusive and embraces diversity.”
VIA Outlets operates 11 outlet shopping centres in nine countries across Europe, so supporting a pan-European organisation through their Pride campaign made sense to them. For the first time, each centre put on a special Pride exhibition throughout June, showcasing unique shopper bag designs commissioned from local artists and creators connected to the LGBTI community. Visitors could purchase the bags, with proceeds from sales donated to ILGA-Europe.
ILGA-Europe was also pleased to continue collaborating with long-standing partners, including fintech company Revolut, which launched its fifth annual Pride campaign supporting ILGA-Europe. New or existing customers can order a special edition rainbow payment card by making a minimum donation to ILGA-Europe. To show their commitment to LGBTI equality, for every card ordered until the end of July 2023, Revolut will donate £1 to ILGA-Europe, up to £10,000.
Over the past weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of talking to staff teams at a diverse range of companies from easyJet and PayPal to Ipsos, helping to raise awareness about the LGBTI rights situation across Europe as part of their Pride activities. It’s been heartening to see such interest and engagement, with sometimes hundreds of employees tuning in from offices across the region and beyond, asking about what they can do to help.
Several office teams have also put the ‘fun’ into fundraising, with Fourtold’s Brussels office putting on a bake sales, the Toyota Europe team organising a drag show featuring the fabulous LaDiva Live, and the easyJet team taking on dance machine challenges to both have fun with colleagues and raise money for ILGA-Europe.
You can find out more about how companies can support the work of ILGA-Europe on our website, where you can download our ‘partnerships for equality’ information pack and listen to podcast episodes diving into the topic of engaging the private sector for LGBTI equality.