10th July 2017

What does Pride London 2017 have to do with work? Everything.

Tim Deeson
Pride London 2017

The 2017 Pride London march marked fifty years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised. And only fourteen years since Section 28 was repealed, the legislation that banned local government and schools from ‘promoting homosexuality or the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’. 

There has been understandable debate over whether London Pride has been co-opted by the culture, companies and politics that it originally set out to change. And that in its current corporate funded and tightly controlled format it was risking diluting the strength of its original message.

In the run up to the event, my impression was that the criticism seemed well placed. Much of the awareness was generated by sometimes embarrassingly thin Pride-themed product campaigns. The message often struggled to get more thought provoking than some rainbow packaging and a generic strapline.

On the day, cheering from the sidelines, it was clear that something simple and much more significant was happening. It was an individual demonstration of being proud of who you are and being celebrated by others. I realised that even a march that is structured around corporate sponsorship isn’t made up of brand identities in practice.

People from organisations like Asda, Deliveroo, NBCUniversal and Lloyds Bank were marching with their colleagues and proudly enjoying the privilege of expressing exactly who they are. A privilege they may not feel is available to them every day at work.

In the background were thousands of Londoners doing our best to show that we’re proud of them too, as loudly as we could. Some of the biggest cheers were for teams from the police, ambulance and fire brigade. I’d imagine both in gratitude for their demonstrable recent bravery and that they may face a challenging workplace culture.

There is of course still a very long way to go. Stonewall’s research reports that more than a quarter of LGBT+ workers are ‘not at all’ open to colleagues about their sexual orientation. And that one in five have experienced bullying because of their sexual orientation in the last five years. 

As long as anyone has to think twice about being exactly who they are at work (or in any other context) then it feels like on that Pride march is doing something important on that basis alone.

At Deeson we work hard to create an inclusive environment and it was great to see so many people and organisations having fun while doing the same.

Photos by Mangaka Maiden Photography are licensed under CC BY 2.0