As we step out of June's radiant display of rainbows marking Pride Month and inch towards Nelson Mandela Day on the 18th of July, it is worth taking a moment to ponder how corporates around the globe respond to these significant calendar events. On one hand, Pride Month is wholeheartedly embraced, with countless businesses enthusiastically adopting rainbow branding and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. On the other, Mandela Day – a day dedicated to celebrating an icon of unity and social justice – has seen diminishing corporate interest, an occurrence both potentially hypocritical and a significant missed opportunity.
A Contrast of Corporate Enthusiasm
Pride Month, observed in June, is an undeniable high-water mark of corporate social responsibility activity. Businesses large and small are quick to revamp their logos, run campaigns, and launch products dripping in rainbow colors, loudly proclaiming their support for the LGBTQ+ community. This global event has become a point of solidarity, a time for companies to take a stand for inclusivity and equality. And it's not just a nod to the community; it is a grand gesture that resonates with the growing consumer demand for brands to reflect societal values.
Yet, contrast this with Mandela Day, a day set aside to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela, a beacon of resilience and an ambassador of reconciliation and social justice. Despite the Day's central message echoing the very tenets that businesses purport to support – unity, equality, and social upliftment – corporate participation in Mandela Day initiatives seems to have waned over the years. The question thus arises: Are we witnessing a form of corporate hypocrisy? And if so, why?
Unpacking the Corporate Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy is a strong word, but the seemingly disproportionate levels of corporate commitment to these two initiatives might invite such critique. This is not to suggest that support for Pride Month is misplaced – quite the opposite. The strides made in recent years for LGBTQ+ rights are a testament to the power of collective action and sustained advocacy, which corporate involvement has played a part in. However, the comparison here serves to illustrate the striking difference in corporate enthusiasm.
The hypocrisy arises when businesses that champion diversity and inclusion during Pride Month do not extend the same fervor to Mandela Day. This seemingly selective approach towards social causes may suggest that their commitment to social issues is not as universal as it may appear.
The Missed Opportunity of Mandela Day
While it might be tempting to view Mandela Day as a 'silver bullet' solution to corporate social responsibility, that's far from what it is or what it should be. Instead, Mandela Day presents an opportunity – one for businesses to showcase their commitment to the principles of equality, diversity, and social upliftment, and to catalyze further social investment activity.
By embracing Mandela Day, companies can build on the momentum of their Pride Month activities, allowing their commitment to equality and diversity to extend beyond a single community and permeate throughout their corporate culture. After all, the essence of Mandela Day is about making a positive impact in others' lives, aligning with the ethos of many businesses' corporate social responsibility strategies.
In a time when consumers increasingly expect corporations to take a stand on societal issues, the missed opportunity to capitalize on Mandela Day is all the more glaring. Participation in Mandela Day provides an excellent platform for businesses to engage their employees, stimulate community development, and reflect the spirit of social justice championed by Mandela himself. This could culminate in a more consistent and meaningful demonstration of their commitment to social justice and responsibility.
Watch our Founder, Craig Kensley share his views on Mandela Day 2022 below:
A Call to Balanced Action
This is not a call to diminish corporate involvement in Pride Month. Rather, it's a call for businesses to extend their commitment to social responsibility throughout the year. As we commemorate Mandela Day, companies have the chance to embrace its ethos and further embed social investment activities into their corporate culture. By doing so, they can demonstrate an authentic commitment to diverse causes, provide meaningful support to communities, and help to create a world that echoes the values of equality, justice, and unity that both Pride Month and Mandela Day represent.