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It took a huge team effort to win the bid for Sydney to host WorldPride in 2023. This iconic global festival has been hosted every few years in different cities since 2000 and is designed to celebrate our global LGBTQIA+ community, will stage a vital Human Rights Conference and host a special First Nations gathering – as well as what will no doubt be an unforgettable, sparkling parade. 

Now, after some stiff competition, it’s Australia’s turn to make sure LGBTIQ+ inclusion is under the global spotlight and on everyone’s agenda and calendar. Taking place from Friday, 17 February to Sunday, 5 March 2023 Sydney WorldPride is the largest event in Oceania, and the very first time it’ll be held in the southern hemisphere. We can expect to see over 500,000 participants at over 300 festival offerings ranging from arts, sports and parties to the Mardi Gras parade and live performances.

So, how did this win come about and how did we get involved? Deloitte has been working closely with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG), a not-for-profit member-based organisation, since 2019 to help it spearhead Sydney’s bid process to host WorldPride.

Simon Cooper, Deloitte Digital and Public Sector Consulting Partner, has been our program leader for this work. He says, “We have been proud to be Sydney World Pride’s first partner, providing a range of services including economic and business forecast modelling, digital marketing, design, tax, accounting and project management support to support Sydney’s bid, through a three-year voluntary in kind arrangement. We’ve also been focused on thinking beyond Sydney WorldPride, to when it’s all over, to make sure SGLMG has the skills and infrastructure it needs to achieve its ongoing objectives and so it can confidently report back to Destination NSW, which is contributing funding to the delivery of the event.”

"It has been invaluable to have Deloitte as a Major sponsor of Sydney WorldPride. With similar values, we’re fortunate to be working alongside their talented, creative and committed team to design a world-class digital platform that connects, educates and empowers LGBTQI+ communities and their allies across the globe.” Kate Wickett, Sydney WorldPride CEO

Getting ready for Sydney WorldPride has been a unique learning experience for everyone involved. Given COVID-19 and other challenges like cyber security, risk management has been key to planning.

Deloitte has helped run strategic risk workshops for SGLMG’s Board, so we could help leaders explore answers to hard questions like, ‘What if the event doesn’t happen? Or there’s another COVID lockdown? Or a cyber or terrorist attack? Or artists can’t perform? Or we go over budget?’. Workshopping these situations and more has allowed SGLMG to prepare for every scenario, allowing it to manage community expectations every step of the way as the event is closer to opening its doors.

Excitingly, digital has played and continues to play a key role in building a safe community for everyone who wants to participate in WorldPride – in person and virtually.

Deloitte Digital has designed and developed a digital marketing strategy and world class digital platform to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ to educate, connect community members, accommodate millions of enquiries, ticket purchases and provide constant news.

It’s easy to misinterpret our digital solution as just a fantastic website. It’s much more – and involves data, analytics and a marketing platform that underpins the very way in which people across Australia and from overseas interact with Sydney WorldPride before, during and after the event to generate and maintain interest.

Simon says, “In just a few hours of the WorldPride Sydney tickets pre-sales going live in July, the vast majority sold out. For our Deloitte Digital team that was a career highlight; that a brand new system could withstand huge simultaneous online traffic and seamlessly make sure all enquiries and transactions were completed securely, safely and quickly. I’m also really excited that the digital assets we have created have been designed with the long-term in mind and become the Mardi Gras database for prosperity afterwards.”

Lisa Walton, Deloitte Digital Director, says helping Sydney WorldPride and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras lift their digital capabilities has been a rewarding, humbling experience. “We’re bringing the best of Deloitte to this project, showing how partners and sponsors can bring values and add value to create a two-way learning environment where everyone wins. We have focused on creating rich, inviting digital experiences for those who want to know what is going on around this amazing event, stay updated with news and information and receive personalised messages to their database.”

Robbie Robertson, Deloitte WorldPride Engagement Partner, adds, “this global event unites LGBTQI+ communities from across the world and brings them to Asia Pacific. As a major sponsor, we will have the unique opportunity to listen and learn from some of the most isolated LGBTQI+ communities in the world, celebrate and demonstrate our leadership into the future”.

Importantly, the success of Sydney WorldPride will show the world that Sydney is open for business, and more than able to host large scale events and accommodate and feed crowds that flock to this beautiful harbour city. This sentiment is certainly confirmed by the NSW Government which has promoted WorldPride Sydney 2023 as a showcase of inclusiveness to a global audience and that will re-establish the city as a must-visit destination for visitors.

“I grew up not knowing enough about LGBTIQ+ communities. Now, as an informed and proud ally, I love meeting and working with really diverse, talented people. At Deloitte we encourage everyone to “You be you” and being a visible ally helps make this happen, so we make a bigger impact together.” Simon Cooper, Deloitte Digital and Public Sector Consulting Partner