Rainbow Washing

Image Source: Mic

Trends come and go with the passing of each day. However, when sensitive topics become a subject of this “trend culture” and are used by corporations who very conveniently hook onto these trends to further their interests, it is important to question the fundamentals of humanity.

The LGBTQIA+ community celebrates the month of June as Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, and also, the fight for equality.

What is rainbow washing?

The practice of promoting LGBTQIA+ cause-based marketing campaigns by big corporations in the month of June to further their capitalist interests without taking any real steps to support/benefit the community.

While promoting pride-coloured merchandise and LGBTQIA+ rights in ad campaigns by big corporations might seem like a step in the direction of inclusivity, the question arises — are these companies rainbow washing?

Examples of rainbow washing

  1. Changing logos and website themes to pride colours
  2. Introducing pride-themed merchandize
  3. Highlighting employees belonging to LGBTQIA+ community on social media pages or ads
  4. Stores hanging rainbow flags

Many big names have incorporated the cause-based marketing strategy and earned huge profits in the past. For example, M&S, Kiehl’s (The Trevor Project), Jack Daniel’s (Drag Queen Mukbang), Reebok (Proud Notes) etc.

How to check if a company is rainbow washing?

  1. How much of the profits from the sale through pride campaigns are being donated to nonprofits working to support the LQBTQIA+ community?
  2. Does the company have a history of rainbow washing?
  3. What is the company’s Equality Index*?
  4. Check for the red flags — Is the company only using rainbow flags and capsule merchandise during the month of June?

*Corporate Equity Index is a report published by Human Rights Campaign Foundation that rates American businesses on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender employees, consumers and investors.

What can we do?

  • It is important that we do our due diligence and check our spending on pride-themed merchandise from companies that are exploiting the goodwill offered during Pride Month to make money off their fight for equality
  • Support and shop from LGBTQIA+ owned businesses
  • Donate to nonprofits supporting the cause
  • Empower LGBTQIA+ voices on social media
  • Confront and absolve self-prejudices and bias
  • Defend and educate others to defend the community against discrimination

Do we need a rainbow-coloured logo to support our LGBTQIA+ friends? No! Especially when the motive is not honest.

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