Holden's decision to sponsor the 2018 Mardi Gras in Sydney for a second year, sees the car manufacturer ditch the stereotype of the hyper-masculine ute owner to a more progressive and inclusive image that includes the LGBTI community.
The company was one of the first in the automotive industry to declare its support of marriage equality in Australia and is now flying the flag in a bid to lure the rainbow dollar its way.
A work in progress
According to Holden's Diversity Manager Matt Hough, the brand's decision to come out is a reflection of its diversity stance and passion for social change.
"When we spoke up in support of marriage equality nearly two years ago that was Holden's first step in heading in this direction," says Matt Hough.
"We felt we needed to take a stance on equality to include the LGBTI community and took gentle steps by appearing at Midsumma Festival in Melbourne a few years ago. We felt people were open and receptive to us being there and that really got us thinking about Mardi Gras," he says.
We're trying to create a workplace that is creating change.Matt Hough
Looking to the future
Holden's presence at Mardi Gras is likely to continue into the coming years with Hough indicating the brand is seeking to expand its reputation beyond the trope of buff ute lover.
"Being with Mardi Gras gave us greater results to press ahead in the equality space and that it's okay to be vocal about it," he says.
"We're now creating 'Holden Moments' within that community. But more than just displaying our affection for them, we're backing ourselves up and making sure we have the proof that we mean what we say. We are doing it internally, across our dealership and with our marketing and sponsorships."
A brand for everyone
The auto industry is renowned for its beefy pitch to the average bloke when it comes to advertising campaigns. Hough says Holden isn't alienating one customer for another, but proving their most famous campaign catchcry (Holden Moment) – can be way more inclusive than it has been in the past.
"The auto industry can have such a negatively ultra-masculine stereotype around it," says Hough. "But Holden isn't just for one segment in our society, we are all inclusive. An opportunity to show our true colours at an event like Mardi Gras is really powerful for us."
While marriage equality is a huge part of Holden's DNA now, so too is the push for gender equality within the company's ranks.
What's more, as a Diversity Manager, Hough aims to dismantle the stereotypes men try to live up to by offering a flexible working model.
"We are focusing on the men in workforce as well," says Hough.
"We want to encourage more of our men to access flexible working arrangements and parental leave, to work part time and not be afraid to be a primary carer if they want to.
"We want men to know that their career won't be derailed or stalled if they choose this. We know women have felt this in the past and still do, but we're trying to create a workplace that is creating change. We are aiming to have a gender balance within our company over the next five years and putting our money where our mouth is."
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