Why Pride Month Matters: Embracing Diversity in Adtech

By Ryan Christopher in Responsibility|June 28, 2024

At OpenX, we’re conscious of the challenges marginalized groups experience in their daily lives. As we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in adtech, embracing the benefits of diversity in the workplace ensures that every voice is heard, valued, and amplified, fostering a more inclusive and vibrant digital ecosystem.

Growing up as a closeted gay kid in the South, I experienced my “fair” share of hate and vitriol that gets directed at the LGBTQIA+ community daily. I was beaten up, spat on, called horrible names, and went through my own journey of trying everything I could to purge myself of what I thought at the time was a sickness or defect. If I could have taken a magic pill to change it, I probably would have.

It took years of work to undo this trauma, and thankfully I no longer feel this way — I’m proud to be who I am. But lately, sometimes I wonder if we as a society are sliding backward into an era of intolerance.

Your kids, friends, coworkers, and even strangers, hear everything you say

I recall very vividly when family members and friends would make gay jokes growing up. They may have been ignorant to what I was going through at the time, but I distinctly remember feeling isolated, alone, and certain that there was no one else out there who was experiencing what I was going through. 

This is not an unusual experience for many gay kids. In fact, according to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers, often resulting from the mistreatment and stigma society imposes upon them.

Perhaps this is why I believe it is important for all of us to celebrate Pride month this year louder than ever. Pride originated as a protest in NYC, where LGBTQ+ people  rose up to fight for equality, dignity, and freedom. In more recent years, it has morphed into a celebration of what it means to live openly and freely, encouraging countless individuals to no longer be afraid to come out and be themselves. 

As the echoes of the intolerant days before Stonewall ring loudly this year, we could very well be experiencing a pivotal moment in our society. Every ounce of support makes a difference, even in the adtech world. These are our recommendations to apply meaningful, genuine diversity and inclusion to the greater ecosystem.

Be substantive, not performative

Early in my adtech career, I recall being pulled into a meeting where I was asked to give my opinion on whether the company’s logo should be turned into a rainbow for Pride Month. The company I worked for at the time had never done anything tangible to help the community, and from my perspective was just looking for a way to participate in what was a fairly trendy display at the time. I recommended they not do this, since our community sees right through these performative acts.

Another company that touted being a great place to work for DEI refused to take action to curb the funding of sites that promoted hate speech, opting instead to keep receiving the few hundreds of dollars those sites brought in. This ultimately led to my resignation — not wanting to contribute in any way to the funding of sites that advocated for the disappearance of my equal rights. 

Then I found OpenX. Here, the policy is clear: hate is not part of our values.

Focus on Responsibility

On day one at OpenX, I could tell this organization truly believes in what they are doing. Instead of just talking, we turn our words into measurable action. From leading the charge in sustainable media (OpenX is certified CarbonNeutral), to fundraising drives and volunteer events that support multiple charities and non-profit organizations, this company is full of smart, kind, caring people that really want to make the advertising industry better across the globe. 

In fact, these efforts have led to other industry-leading charges, like the default elimination of MFA from deals, (one of the most energy-intensive ad products out there) to partnering with organizations like Givsly for Impact PMPs, which helps buyers automatically donate 5% of their campaign spend to non-profits they would like to support. Through these offerings, brands can directly contribute to  LGBTQIA+ organizations like Rainbow Railroad, SAGE, and The Marsha P. Johnson Institute.

While certainly not exhaustive, efforts like these are effective, meaningful ways adtech companies can make a real difference. As we wrap up Pride this June, it’s important to make sure we continue working to foster more inclusive, welcoming environments that offer a place for everyone and back them up with action.

To learn more about Impact PMPs or other initiatives OpenX is supporting, please reach out to your account representative.