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Taking Pride: What is Rainbow Washing in Marketing?

Taking Pride: What is Rainbow Washing in Marketing?

Social movements, support and awareness by large companies are welcomed by minority communities involved, but when does it just become yet another marketing ploy? Rainbow washing has started to be highlighted over the last few years due to the high level of rainbow use during June in logos and other marketing materials.

What is Rainbow Washing? 

Rainbow washing is the use of the Pride flag to push companies’ own agenda that doesn’t necessarily support, employ or support the causes of people from the LGBTQ+ community. These companies plan a marketing strategy months in advance and use the month of June to push their PR agenda while not necessarily always displaying equality on the ground level.  

Isn’t it a nice thing to show support?

Yes, it is of value to show and promote the endless work and exhausting efforts of the LGBTQ+ community, however, it does not do anything to support the causes unless profits are being actively donated and efforts are being made to ensure equality for all.

Unfortunately, where there is a rainbow washed logo, you will typically find a marketing plan and PR agenda behind it with carefully constructed releases shouting about what a great company they are to be employing LGBTQ+ people.

If you see this type of marketing, stop and think, shouldn’t they be doing this anyway? Why should this be news at all? How does this activity help the LGBTQ+ community?

READ NEXT: How to begin marketing your business

Is advertising support for the community or products with rainbows ok? 

This is fine as you are selling and marketing your product, not pushing your agenda. When something turns to, ‘We’re delighted to support pride as Sylvia is gay’ or ‘We’re delighted to support pride and do so by throwing a party for our gay workmates, here are some pictures of them!’; this is a problem! Sylvia is no different to anyone else in your workforce and putting pictures up of your gay employees highlights the fact you perceive them differently, and frankly, makes you look very silly. It’s a basic human right to be considered a worthy candidate for a job regardless of sexual orientation or gender.  

What can you do?

Celebrate Pride, by all means, by changing your logo to rainbows and do the following things to support the cause:

  • Donate money to causes like Dublin Pride and LGBT Ireland.
  • You could plan a post with a flag or a parade image to honour your LGBTQ+ customers and colleagues without images of specific people.
  • Highlight the current inequalities in today’s society and use your place on social media to raise awareness.
  • Generally, be respectful of a movement that took decades to get to this point. Note the work they have done now and throughout history just to be recognised in society as an equal.

READ NEXT: Setting Boundaries with Social Media

What should you not do? 

  • Don’t use pictures of employees to show how LGBTQ+ friendly you are as an employer. This is self-promotion.
  • Don’t have a full marketing campaign behind Pride that only markets your company and promotes your values and ethos.
  • Do not throw parties for Pride and then advertise it everywhere. This looks like a PR set-up.
  • Don’t do PR activity showing off how your company supports LGBTQ+ employees and customers.
  • Do not ask your employees to advertise and tag your pride party. If they choose to do it themselves, great. If you ask them to do it, it’s a clear sign the company is looking for self-gratification.

Happy Pride!

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One Comment

  1. Robert Pesqueira
    May 13, 2022

    There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I love all the points you’ve made.

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