How to Avoid Rainbow Washing During Pride Month

In many American localities, Pride Month is an explosively colorful time of the year. Hosts of Pride flags and rainbow decor seem to appear overnight in preparation for June 1. Businesses are also quick to demonstrate their support for the holiday. Everything from shampoo to tennis shoes gets a month-long repackaging in Pride flag paraphernalia. 

An outside observer may initially be moved by these outward displays of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. However, a closer inspection reveals something different. For many organizations, the rainbow packaging is simply a veneer of support used to sidestep responsibility for fostering LGBTQ+ inclusion. This “rainbow washing” allows businesses to say they value inclusion without having to address the systemic barriers that stand in the way of that inclusion. In its mildest form, rainbow washing is a marketing ploy that appropriates Pride imagery to sell products without providing tangible support for LGBTQ+ individuals. In worse manifestations, businesses may even sell Pride merchandise while actively supporting anti-LGBTQ+ organizations. 

How Companies Can Avoid Rainbow Washing 

Rainbow washing is all about prioritizing optics over action. The best way for organizations to avoid rainbow washing is by demonstrating substantive support for the LGBTQ+ community. The following best practices offer strategies for companies to champion LGBTQ+ inclusion in meaningful ways. 

Continue reading this and all our content with a Fair360 subscription.

Gain company-wide access to our premium content including our monthly webinars, Meeting in a Box, career advice, best practices, and video interviews with top executives.MembershipsAlready a member? Sign in.