Insight

Pride Month: Going Beyond Corporate Rainbow Washing

Pride Month gives corporations an opportunity to showcase their support for inclusivity and acceptance, going beyond just logos and marketing campaigns.

Three animated figures wearing suits with rainbow in backdrop
GS

Gregory Sirico

June 23, 2023 01:07 PM

Observed every June, Pride Month is a time for the LGBTQ+ community and its supporting allies to take a moment to celebrate the progress and efforts put forth toward greater equality while also acknowledging the current struggles members of the community continue to face every day. In response, major corporations and companies join the commemoration by briefly displaying rainbow-clad logos and producing Pride-based marketing campaigns. Despite this support, as LGBTQ+ rights continue to advance, companies face increased urgency from the public and their employees to go beyond surface-level actions, making decisions that will positively impact the community. In this article, we’ll explore how corporations can start adequately addressing these challenges and meet public expectations from a legal perspective.

Enhancing Inclusivity in the Workplace

To foster a safe and supportive working environment for all employees, corporations should aim to implement business structures and policies that make workplace inclusivity, respect and societal education a priority. From drafting comprehensive non-discrimination policies and establishing resource and advocacy groups to offering training on the current issues the LGBTQ+ community faces, companies can move one step closer to providing a positive, inclusive environment for all.

Corporations should look at the issue from a legal perspective to do this effectively. By reviewing their existing company policies, corporations can ensure compliance with state, local and federal anti-discrimination laws are properly met while also considering how they can do more to go above and beyond the bare minimum legally. By evaluating ongoing topics such as sexual orientation, gender identity and using pronouns in their anti-discrimination policies, corporations will set a positive example internally and communicate a willingness for inclusivity externally to the public and company stakeholders.

Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Rights

While flying a rainbow flag or displaying a Pride-based logo are active signs of solidarity, many believe corporations are often guilty of rainbow washing. Rainbow washing is when companies incorporate rainbow Pride colors into their logos, products and websites to signal support for the LGBTQ+ community. Despite this temporary support, many members of the LGBTQ+ community and beyond regard it as a type of performative activism, only supporting the cause to garner publicity and generate profits without further initiatives to support the community.

To flip the narrative and make an impact, corporations that wish to do so should actively support LGBTQ+ rights and advocate for change outside the month of June. Companies often have the money, resources and influence to fund third-party organizations working toward strengthening equality while actively lobbying for LGBTQ+ inclusive legislation. With that, companies can partner with pro bono service providers to offer legal support to LGBTQ+ individuals going through litigation.

Additionally, by seeking out and collaborating with civil rights or grassroots organizations, corporations can demonstrate a less commercialized and more genuine commitment to help achieve positive change. Taking this approach will not only demonstrate a company’s ongoing support for the LGBTQ+ community but also showcase its dedication to building a lasting impact in the future.

Community and Supplier Engagement Is Key

In addition to employing several internal measures, corporations can also support the LGBTQ+ community by promoting supplier diversity. Supplier diversity refers to using minority-owned businesses as suppliers and remains a proactive method of encouraging collaboration within an organization’s supply chain. To do this, corporations should actively seek out LGBTQ+-owned businesses, suppliers and contractors, enlisting their assistance to create more economic opportunities for queer entrepreneurs.

Similarly to drafting updated non-discrimination policies, corporations should also create a clear set of supplier diversity guidelines. By setting goals and actively seeking out a diverse list of suppliers, corporations can help address blatant economic disparities LGBTQ+ community members continue to face and contribute to a more inclusive business landscape. Additionally, corporations can sponsor and participate in LGBTQ+ and Pride Month events, support local organizations through volunteering or donation efforts and allow company employees to engage in community service initiatives. By actively involving themselves in community activities, corporations can build an increased level of trust and forge meaningful connections with not only their employees but their consumers too.

Pride is an initiative of acceptance, and while outward support through logos, merchandise and marketing is valuable, companies can use their resources and influence to go further for the benefit of their employees, their customers and their goals for a more inclusive society year-round.

Headline Image: Adobe Stock/Hamid

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