May, 2012 / Author:

In 2010, Pride Toronto had an impact of $136 million and created 600 jobs. Pride Winnipeg has not yet studied its economic impact in our city.  But we do know that last year more than 15,000 attended the Pride Festival at the Forks, and hundreds of those were from out of town. And any event that brings external dollars into the Winnipeg economy is a good thing.

This year’s Pride Week is expected to draw an even bigger crowd and many more out-of-town revellers are expected to come help us celebrate our 25th anniversary. So, what is your business doing to leverage the excitement (and economics) of Pride? Whether you call the shots or simply make the coffee, here are some ways that you can get your workplace more involved in Pride.

The most direct way to get involved is to become a financial sponsor of Pride Winnipeg. Pride sponsors can benefit from exclusivity (being the only hotel sponsor) and a premium exposure (like TD had in 2011).  This exposure at the festival and the events leading up to it can go a long way to getting your brand noticed.  This year, Pride Week events are expected to draw more than 30,000 attendees. Another option is to provide in-kind support to Pride events. Pride engages all types of vendors to put on the 15-plus events of Pride Week.

This year’s Pride Festival will continue to showcase local LGBT-friendly businesses at PrideMART.  PrideMART has been an integral part of Pride for years. This is where local businesses can show off their pride (and their merchandise) to the crowds at the festival. Last year, PrideMART showcased more than 40 businesses and organizations that are dedicated to serving Winnipeg’s LGBT community.

Many businesses offer special promotions or products around this time of year geared towards the LGBT community. The Delta hotel usually offers special rates during Pride. And do you remember the rainbow-coloured roses sold by Family Florists Handicrafts? Think about some promotions that your business could offer.

And one thing that every business should do is: decorate and be proud. Pick up a few rainbow flags, some colourful beads, and maybe a feather boa. Celebrating Pride in your workplace helps to build employee morale and boost productivity. It also sends a powerful message to your customers (and vendors) that you care about your community.

I look forward to seeing your business at this year’s Pride festivities!

– Mark Schollenberg is Chair of LAMBDA: Manitoba’s LGBT Business Chamber. He is a commercial account manager with RBC Royal Bank.

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