We are All-Inclusive: Our Journey to Cologne Pride 2019
On June 28th, the world commemorates the turning point for the fight for LGBTIQ+ rights in the way we know it today as Pride. June is therefore a good month for companies and corporations to do “pinkwashing”: “a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting products, countries, people or entities through an appeal to gay-friendliness, in order to be perceived as progressive, modern and tolerant” (Wikipedia, Pinkwashing (LGBT), August 2019).
I am particularly sceptical when I see companies and corporations participating in Pride demonstrations that are too commercial or wrapping themselves in pride flags without having a further idea, commitment with the community or with their own employees – I call Pride “the new Christmas”. For this reason, I did not want to miss the chance to be involved in the organisation of an initiative to drive trivago’s participation in Cologne Pride 2019. I thought it would be sad to see my company using the event as an excuse to organise a Pride-themed party and forgetting the importance behind it. But no, thanks to an incredibly hard-working team, that’s not what happened.
The seed was sowed after our participation in 2018. It was our first time, we knew that we wanted to repeat it, but there were many things to improve. In January 2019 we gathered and started to reflect on last year’s experience, the feedback, our individual motivation, what would be good for the community and, of course, what the motivation for the company could be. With all this, our group of six volunteers presented the idea to the Culture team. The first tentative answer we received was very promising: All of this sounds very good, but it should not be about the company; let’s focus on the people.
The initiative was approved soon after and we got down to work with weekly meetings. We were responsible for and in full control of the project, and the company not only did not question that, but even expected it: trivago trusted us completely to manage budget and action points. We counted on the enthusiastic involvement of teams like Design, Corporate Communications, Culture and Talent Attraction. It was not easy to coordinate this big and diverse group to work on such a sensitive topic whilst being respectful, assertive and effective; all of this without losing our identity and making sure the result was far from pinkwashing. We came up with a motto and developed a project based on raising awareness about the simple fact that Pride is not only for LGBTIQ+ people: WE ARE ALL-INCLUSIVE.
The project consisted of several elements to educate and emphasise the value of diversity and acceptance. The Corporate Design team listened carefully, learnt and built a remarkable design concept around a combination of our motto, Pride and our brand identity, avoiding advertising our product at all costs. We had ink stamps, wristbands, flags, screen visuals, T-shirts and even a truck! The premise was to give our talents a voice to spread the message: proud, loud, positive, inclusive. The campaign was developed using our internal communication channels: a visual strategy throughout our offices to promote the initiative, information shared on targeted days like the 20th of May (International Day Against LGBTIQ+phobia), personal stories posted on social networks, a spectacular display on our media wall next to reception, a detailed document with information for those who wanted to sign up, an open talk to educate our talents on the history and development of gay activism as well as some touches about the diversity of the community, and a final presentation with the last guidelines just before the big day. We were ready to hit the streets of Cologne and demonstrate who we are and what for we stand.
On July 7th we were there, around a hundred of us, excited, curious, impatient, humble… but confident. The demonstration started and our message was understood, accepted, welcomed, shared and spread. Our talents gave their best, the attitude could not have been better, the planned musical time travel through the last 50 years of Pride played by our DJ worked outstandingly well. We enjoyed it and spread our joy, the crowd joined us, followed us, danced with us, marched with us. The group was bigger at the end than it was at the beginning! We had an exemplary group, proud, accepting, welcoming, supporting, engaging, but at the same time aware, knowledgeable, committed; being advocates for LGBTIQ+ rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This was especially important for many of our talents who never had the chance before to participate in a Pride march, specially those coming from countries and cultural backgrounds where being or supporting LGBTIQ+ people can be very difficult. Some could express themselves freely for the first time in their lives, and hopefully not the last.
So, yes, we were there as a group of trivago talents, but not as a walking advertising campaign. Yes, we were sporting our logo, because we also identify with it and the values it represents. We could feel authentic, we could be ourselves. We were a group of people with a message whose common ground was working at the same place: a company that listened and supported us to be there, because the topic was important for us. Our talents felt included and made everyone feel included. They understood the real reasons to participate in a Pride march, that there is a lot to do and that doing it can be fun. They understood and proved that trivago is a safe place to work ─ that in this company we are all together in the fight, that LGBTIQ+ rights are not only necessary for a group of LGBTIQ+ people, but to create a better, healthier and more fair company and society for everyone. And I do not think that the fact that we were a group from a company made our message and participation less legitimate.
Get a behind-the-scenes look of how it all went down in the video below:
- Rafael Martinez-Jausoro for sharing your story with us.
- Julia Buchmann for the beautiful designs.
- Quentin Branche for all the photos capturing the day so perfectly.
- Beatriz Huélamo for the lovely video giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the end result.