With less than three months before the start of Sydney WorldPride 2023, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has launched a campaign encouraging its members to play an active role in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, including the release of an industry-wide position statement that aims to build more inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ+ employees.
ARA CEO and long-time diversity advocate Paul Zahra said that genuine inclusion of LGBTQ+ people is important to the retail sector, both as a growing consumer segment with high levels of discretionary income and as a way of attracting and retaining great talent for Australian retailers.
“I’m really excited by the initiatives we are launching today for Sydney WorldPride 2023, which can help retailers connect in a meaningful way with LGBTQ+ consumers and employees.
“These initiatives will help showcase the inclusive nature of Australian retailers to visitors from across the globe and ensure this public show of support is backed up by authentic actions,” said Mr Zahra.
The NSW government expects more than 78,000 domestic and international visitors to attend Sydney WorldPride 2023, with more than 500,000 people anticipated to attend the three-week event between 17 February and 5 March 2023. Held every two years by a roving host city, Sydney WorldPride 2023 is slated to be one of Sydney’s biggest events since the 2000 Olympics, bringing up to $100 million into the local economy.
“Not only will Sydney WorldPride 2023 be a celebration of the vibrant diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s an exciting opportunity to continue the revitalisation of Sydney’s CBD and restore Australia’s standing as a visitor economy powerhouse, with its flow-on effects across the retail economy.
“Whilst Sydney is hosting the event, we expect Australian retailers across the country will take the opportunity to celebrate diversity, equality and inclusion nationally – sending a strong and encouraging message to both the domestic and international visitors.
“There are a number of ways our members can get involved during Sydney WorldPride, starting with a rainbow-themed take-over of their website and social media channels, or in-store activations and visual merchandising displays. These are just two of the 15 suggestions we’ve promoted with members, who are all at different stages of their journey on engaging with the LGBTQ+ community,” said Mr Zahra.
To avoid pink-washing the ARA Position Statement for the Inclusion of LGBTQ+ People provides context about inequalities impacting LGBTQ+ people and outlines some of the proposed actions retailers can take to address these inequities.
“I’m incredibly proud we have released our Position Statement for the Inclusion of LGBTQ+ People, building on our successful approach to gender equality and reminding us of the positive role that our sector can play in addressing inequalities across our community.
“As we have in the Gender Equality area, we are asking members to publicly commit to this position statement and develop a plan to implement the actions that make most sense to their business.
“I’d like to thank those members who have already signalled their intent to sign-up to the statement along with the InterRetail LGBTQ+ employee network for their guidance in developing this initiative,” said Mr Zahra
The Australian Human Rights Commission estimates that “up to 11% of the Australian population may have a diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. The most pronounced inequalities for LGBTQ+ people come in the form of higher levels of mental illness and suicide, higher levels of absenteeism and fewer career progression opportunities.
“As Australia’s largest private sector employer, it is essential that the retail sector plays a leading role in highlighting and addressing these inequities that exist for LGBTQ+ people in their work and personal lives,” said Mr Zahra.