Pride month and rainbow washing


As the annual Pride Month celebrations have now ended for 2023, it has been interesting to see how different companies chose to recognise the event this year. Pride Month is a fantastic opportunity for people everywhere to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, remember the hard-won battles that have been fought in the name of equality, and to shine a light on the problems still being faced by people every day.

Celebrating Pride Month as a corporation can be tricky, and navigating the best ways to show your support, while avoiding hollow gestures, can be even trickier. And this year especially, the splashing of rainbows on logos was not going to cut it.

In previous years, the presence of a rainbow logo to replace a brand’s regular design was a bold show of support. Companies risked significant backlash for being one of the minority to stand in solidarity with the queer community, but times have changes and companies are having to adapt to this.

Nowadays the presence of a rainbow logo is seen as a bare minimum, and is often even mocked by queer people for its insincerity and hollowness, especially when the business practices of said companies are less than perfect on this front.

However, this doesn’t mean companies wanting to support Pride Month should forgo the rainbow logo altogether, but instead a more well-rounded approach to supporting people should be considered, and not just viewed as a box-ticking exercise.

Partnering with or providing support for LGBTQ+ charities is a fantastic opportunity to show sincere support for the community this month. So many amazing charities exist in order to progress the rights of queer people living around the world, and they are always in need of financial help.

Putting financial weight behind the month’s celebrations adds validity to your support, and makes a real difference in a world where LGBTQ+ rights are often under attack.

Diversity in the workplace is important for creating a supportive work environment, and will help attract the best talent to your company, at all levels. Having senior staff members of all backgrounds helps to create a culture of inclusivity and that is absolutely something to shout about. Even seemingly small gestures like the incorporation of personal pronouns into proposals, profiles and email footers can mean a lot for queer people who are wanting to be open about themselves at work.

When developing messaging for this month it’s also important to engage with LGBTQ+ team members as they are far more aware of the environment they work in than their colleagues. Getting support from the voices within your own company, and ensuring they are involved in the outreach process, is far more likely to add depth to your messaging – don’t neglect the human resources that you already have in your team.

And there is always the opportunity to apply for external support from diversity and inclusion experts, perhaps to run a workshop or speak with your staff about everyday things that can be done to support one another. This is particularly useful for smaller businesses who might not have the workforce to run said workshop or messaging session.

In a year when more anti-trans legislation has been introduced in the United States than ever before, it is especially important to ensure that trans rights and voices are centre stage. Many brands are wanting to distance themselves from the trans part of the LGBTQ+ community, but remembering that the first pioneers of queer liberation in the US and around the world were trans people is an all-too-easily-forgotten fact. Diffusion PR is proud to work with clients like Audeliss who are actively promoting queer diversity at work, and not shying away from trans-inclusion. This includes advising on policy for companies, promoting HR education and encouraging well-rounded healthcare benefits for all which include gender affirming care.

Pride Month is a celebration, and it is always great to see more and more people get involved with the festivities every year, but being mindful of the way your company is being perceived is crucial now more than ever.

Avoiding tokenistic support and surface-level gestures is fundamental to making genuine and lasting change. Using the resources you have available and not being afraid to reach out for the best advice in navigating queer issues will ensure that Pride Month was not just a publicity opportunity but part of an ongoing and yearlong commitment to inclusion. Remember that there is always more that can be done to highlight the great work of your LGBTQ+ employees, support political and social liberation, and create a more welcoming atmosphere in your workplace. Finally, back up the message you want to send with evidence of the positive actions you are taking. Pandering to queer people in order to secure their business is not sufficient, and unsubstantiated virtue signalling is not what anyone wants their brand to be associated with.

And above all let’s remember that, while Pride Month officially ended at the start of July, supporting queer people around the world is a yearlong effort and the most authentic and meaningful pride campaigns are more than just 30 days. Happy Pride!