“Business is very personal”: Why SMEs are sharing their joy after Australia gets marriage equality

Murley a& Co founder Carla Murley (right). Source: supplied.

The social media accounts of local businesses across the country are covered with rainbows this morning, with small businesses keen to share the successful passing of marriage equality legislation with their customers and communities.

Businesses of all sizes have banded together in campaigns supporting the rights of same-sex couples to marry this year.

However, with the lengthy postal vote process completed and legislation securing equal marriage rights passed after a mammoth session in the House of Representatives on Thursday, small business owners say the conversation is only just beginning.

Many have taken to social media platforms like Instagram to share relief and happiness about the outcome of the vote with their customers.

And it’s done! #marriageequality #australia #abouttime ????: artwork by @xlucasgrogan

A post shared by Murley & Co Millinery (@murleyandcomillinery) on

The founder of “one man band” millinery business Murley and Co, Carla Murley, tells SmartCompany she thinks it’s important for business owners like herself to use their platforms to “draw attention to important things”.

“To be honest with you, whether or not other people agree with me doesn’t come into it,” she says.

The way I interact with my customers on social media is very personal, it is just me. My business is very personal and I think my customers are used to seeing personal things come up.” 

Earlier this year, SMEs were urged to engage honestly with the LGBTI community, instead of “just putting a little rainbow on your website” in hopes of capturing more customers once same-sex marriage became legal.

Murley says sharing support for marriage equality is less about directly gaining new customers for her business, but instead about connecting with people who share her company’s values of inclusivity.

I don’t know if it necessarily brings people to my business in a client capacity, but it grows the network of people you start to want to connect with,” she says. 

“You’re attracting people who have a similar range of values.”

Then there’s the added bonus that platforms like Instagram lend themselves well to celebratory posts, particularly if your business is in the creative space.

You’re talking about visual images, and when you’re in a creative business like me, you start to think about how you can get your point across creatively on issues like marriage equality,” she says. 

Brands have put their weight behind the “yes” campaign with big projects this year, including clothing imprint Gorman’s release of hundreds of free ‘Love is Love‘ t-shirts in August.

At the time, marketing experts told SmartCompany these genuine, grassroots-style campaigns from businesses were also about more than just brand awareness — they have the power to show customers the true preferences of their founders and connect with people on that basis.

“If a business has a good understanding of [and] are facilitating and showing they agree with their community’s sentiments, then it generates a massive amount of goodwill,” social media expert Catriona Pollard said of Gorman earlier this year.

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