How Manchester Businesses Can Support Pride

Rainbow flags and whistles at the ready! Manchester Pride is nearly upon us, and tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on the city streets for the annual LGBTQ+ celebration.

Held over the August Bank Holiday weekend each year, it features Manchester’s largest and most colourful parade. With a variety of free events and a music festival where stars such as Jake Shears and Natasha Bedingfield will be performing, it’s a great way to end summer in the city in style.

Many businesses will be getting involved. From big national brands to small local enterprises, taking part is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion in all areas of your business.

If your own business is located in or around Manchester city centre, you also have a great opportunity to benefit from the increased footfall – provided, that is, you’re already a visible (and vocal) supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, over half of the visitors of London Pride 2022 said that they were more likely to spend their money with LGBTQ+ friendly companies.

But to show you genuinely stand with the LGBTQ+ community all year round means doing more than just selling a Pride-themed cocktail in your restaurant, or hanging up a rainbow display in your hair salon on the day of the parade.

So how can your Manchester business show its support for Pride in a way that lasts long after the confetti’s been swept away? Read on to find out.

When does Manchester Pride take place?

Manchester Pride Festival 2023 takes place from 25 to 28 August, with a huge programme of events that include the Human Rights Forum, Gay Village Party, Youth Pride, Family Pride, Superbia Festival and the moving Candlelit Vigil.

If you’re a business in or around Manchester’s Gay Village (the streets that fall between Princess Street and Minshull Street, close to Piccadilly Station and China Town), be aware that the site and its infrastructure will be built between 21 August and 24 August, and taken down again between 28 August and 30 August.

What date is the Manchester Pride 2023 parade?

The parade is held on Saturday 26 August and it starts at midday.

Where is the Manchester Pride 2023 parade held?

The parade weaves its way through Manchester city centre, starting at Liverpool Road in Castlefield, before heading along Deansgate. It passes by the Town Hall and the Gay Village, before finishing on Whitworth Street.

What is this year’s theme?

2023’s theme will be ‘Queerly Beloved’, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which allowed civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage if they wished, and enabled individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.

Can my business take part in the parade?

You can apply online if you want to take part in the parade, but a vital part of the business application process is to let the organisers know how you demonstrate your support to LGBTQ+ people all year round.

Are there any terms and conditions businesses need to be aware of?

Manchester Pride have rules around business activity, outlined in their commercial engagement policy. Organisers expressly stipulate that the Manchester Pride parade is not a marketing opportunity to sell to an audience, and that includes selling wares along the parade route. You’ll need to obtain a licence from Manchester City Council if you plan to hand out flyers or promotional material.

What’s the best way for my business to show its support for Manchester Pride?

We’ve outlined some ways you can celebrate the event in your own business below. But before you get started, a word of caution. If your Pride celebrations feel like a hollow marketing ploy or a cynical way to expand your business( your efforts might not be well-received.

Every year across the UK, there is a [surge in news headlines accusing businesses of cashing in on Pride] ( by so-called ‘rainbow-washing’.

Like green-washing (where companies spend more on advertising their environmentally-friendly credentials than they do on their efforts to become more sustainable) rainbow-washing is a form of performative activism. At its most basic, it’s when companies hang up a Pride flag once a year, then fail to take any meaningful action to support the LGBTQ+ community for the other 364 days.

More than ever, consumers are turning a critical eye to the companies that they buy from. So, to genuinely show your support for Pride, consider making the following simple changes that will go some way towards making your LGBTQ+ customers and employees feel safe, seen and heard.

  • Encourage the sharing of pronouns in emails or on name badges, and consider diversity training for you and your team.

  • Put a sticker in your window, or a badge on your website, to show the world that you’re LGBTQ+ friendly, and proud of it.

  • If you own a hair salon, using a gender-neutral pricing structure will ensure everyone feels welcome.

  • Bars and restaurants can offer gender-neutral toilets just by changing the door signage and offering feminine hygiene products in both.

  • For all types of businesses, updating the attributes on your Google listing to show you are ‘LGBTQ+-friendly’ or ‘transgender-safe’ takes just seconds.

Finally, have a look at the charities that your business donates to. There are plenty of organisations out there dedicated to making life better for those in the LGBTQ+ community, all of which could use your support, whether that’s with your money, your skills or your time.

Don’t know where to start? [The Manchester Pride Community] Fund( raises money to help LGBTQ+ communities. Every penny donated goes directly to supporting LGBTQ+ causes and projects in Greater Manchester.

What’s the best way for my business to join in the celebrations during Manchester Pride weekend?

Such a huge influx of visitors to the city is great for the Manchester businesses that reside there. But how can you make sure your own celebrations hit the right tone? Here are a few ideas to help.

Ask for feedback

Before you hit the ground running on any big celebrations or events at your business, do some market research. If you’re not part of the LGBTQ+ community yourself, it’s best to discuss what you’re planning with people who are. A good place to start is with your LGBTQ+ customers and employees. Make sure you take on board what they’re saying, and prepare to pivot if they feel your ideas won’t be well-received.

Use LGBTQ+ suppliers for Pride specials

There’s nothing like putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to demonstrating your LGBTQ+ allyship. Whether it’s a Pride-themed cake or cocktail for your restaurant or a glam and glittery makeover at your beauty salon, consider partnering with an LGBTQ+ owned business to co-create an item or experience.

Thankfully with Square’s vendor management features, adding your new LGBTQ+ suppliers into your business POS is such a cinch you may decide to turn your new Pride partnership into a permanent arrangement. Additionally, Square for Restaurants POSlets you set up your Prime-themed specials in seconds, while Square for Marketing will help you spread the word to your customers, well before the big day comes around.

Get creative

Consider installing a window display that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community in some way. This could be as simple as hanging up an LGBTQ+ flag at your premises, but make sure you use the most up-to-date version.

In 2018, Manchester Pride became the first Pride in the UK to adopt the black and brown stripes to the iconic rainbow flag. Known as the Progress Flag, the addition of these colours are to ensure that LGBTQ+ people of colour from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds feel represented and welcome.

There’s even an Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag, created by Valentino Vecchietti of Intersex Equality Rights UK in 2021.

Beyond rainbows, you could go for a same-sex wedding-themed window display with a wedding or love-inspired design to match this year’s theme of ‘Queerly Beloved’.

Host a Pride event

Whether you’re planning a talk on diversity in your bookshop or an exuberant party in your bar or restaurant, hosting a Pride event can be a great idea – if you get the tone right. Make sure you invite LGBTQ+ talent and activists where possible and look for ways to honour LGBTQ+ heroes.

Before you send out the invites, it’s helpful if you and your team take the time to learn about the history of Pride.

If you’re selling items at your event, remember that Square Terminal is economical, easy to use and allows staff to take payments quickly, helping you to speed up the queue.

But, if you’re planning on making money from your event, think about ways you can give back at the same time. For example, donating a proportion of the money you make on any Pride-themed items to an LGBTQ+ charity.

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