Difference Brings Innovation

If we are smart enough to see it

July 12. 2019

Updated: July 15, 2019

Pain Points, Finding New Customers and Diversity

How do you know what you don’t know? Good practice says you find your customer’s pain points. How can you do that, if you are not part of a community, or have little in common with target markets? Professor Jim Macnamara (2015) advises social listening. This includes seeing changes occurring in communities, and I would suggest, the first Pride Parade in Wellington in nearly 25 years is a change that can be listened to. Making diversity work, is understanding different communities pain points.

Is it a positive thing, where the LGBTIQ+ community doesn’t need to command the streets, does need to parade along our main roads? When talking with a key organiser, Amanduh La, she told me a story about the brutal beating of Dana De Milo, in police custody, and how Carmen Rupe, a (now) well known Wellington personality, took Dana back out on Cuba Street, dressed to the nines. Carmen said “Don’t look down”, no matter the pain, no matter the tears, don’t look down. Don’t look down is a strong statement, an even stronger act. Over the decades there have been queers of all sorts that commanded our streets and haven’t looked down. Don’t look down is a strong statement, an even stronger act. Is made easier if we support all our diverse communities to achieve it.

Happening in the early 1970s, I was a primary school student at the time of this story. As I now reach middle age, and the constant forgetting of my two pairs of glasses, and as I repeat my great grandmother’s constant question – have you seen my glasses? I wonder, have we reached middle age on LGBTIQ+ matters? A maturity in terms of dealing with difference? Or, do we (conveniently) forget? Losing sight, without glasses, of what happens around us?

Have we forgotten the spring box tour, and the convenient forgetting of our own situation at that time. Forgotten the rainbow warrior, and our current statistics where demographics matter, your race, ethnicity, age and gender all still effect your probabilities for education, employment and health.

Convenient forgetting also hides the courage of those that are different – whether it is Carmen or Dana, butch dykes, and other minorities that despite being beaten, bloodied bruised, and left for dead, going back out into public space, dressed to the nines. If we conveniently forget the brutality, and the bigotry of the past (and the present), we also conveniently forget the heroism, so is sad that there hasn’t been a parade to honour our communities fallen heroes? Whether or not you agree with the war, agree with the cause, we have to honour the people prepared to fight and bleed, and be ridiculed for their beliefs.

On the other hand, should we be proud that the struggles of the younger generations are not peppered with such institutional brutality, where families and kids will attend the celebration of a vibrant community, where there are police liaisons for the queer community and ATM’s dressed in queer colours. But if life is “so much better now-a-days” – my grandfather’s favourite expression, why do we need a pride parade? Can we honour our fallen heroes in other ways – ways that tell their stories (archive thing) as well as honour them? Amanduh La is organising the Pride Parade, and given her grace and insight, you have ask why? If such a successful, well-known and respected person is putting their time and effort into such a mammoth task, why now? Institutional beatings from authority figures have been transformed through the blood, courage and legal processes that went before those of us in middle age now. Yet, attitudes are still out there. Whether it’s the woman that leapt away from me when I was collecting for aids research, as if I might give her the disease, whether it’s the actions of the men that recently beat a gay prostitute nearly to death, whether it’s the group that stops when someone brings a same sex partner to the office party. A gay man might be the head of Apple, and same sex marriage legal, but attitudes still make communities.

Social listening would say, something is changing in the queer community, if street parades are necessary again. Steve Pateman, saved his shoe factory by making women’s footwear in men’s size’s – diversity can work, if you know the pain points of your customers. If something is happening in a community for the first time in nearly 25 years, watch out for your next customer’s pain point.