So, you want your brand to be an authentic ally to the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and beyond? You're in the right place!
As social media has made brands more accessible and visible than ever, consumers are increasingly demanding more from the brands they support. Businesses often search for ways to show their commitment to meaningful causes, and what better time to show support for the LGBTQIA+ community than in June during Pride Month celebrations?
Let's dive into how you can be a true ally without falling into the trap of rainbow washing.
A brief introduction to pride month marketing
Pride Month is celebrated every June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots and honor the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s also become a big opportunity for businesses and brands to show their support front and center.
However, it's essential to approach Pride Month marketing in a thoughtful, authentic manner to avoid the appearance of rainbow washing.
Understanding the true meaning of pride month
Before we delve into what rainbow washing is, let's first explore the meaning of Pride Month. Pride Month is more than just a celebration; it's a time of reflection, activism, and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.
Creating an authentic connection with your audience requires going beyond superficial displays of allyship such as merely adding the rainbow pride flag to your logo or profile picture for a month. Instead, strive to create a meaningful impact and demonstrate long-lasting commitment to LGBTQIA+ rights and issues.
What is corporate rainbow washing, and why should you care?
Rainbow washing occurs when a brand adorns its products, social media accounts, or promotional materials with rainbow colors or symbols, often during Pride events, without substantiating its support for the LGBTQIA+ community in any deeper way.
Although some brands and corporations may genuinely mean well, rainbow washing can come across as opportunistic and tone-deaf to consumers. Furthermore, it can diminish the very essence of Pride and the queer community's ongoing struggles for acceptance and equality.
So now that we know the background on rainbow washing, let's talk about how brands can avoid it and become an ally during Pride Month and beyond.
How to avoid inauthentic approaches to Pride Month marketing: the don'ts
Don't: Limit support to Pride Month
Yes, Pride Month is spectacular and tons of fun, but your brand shouldn't pack up the allyship after June is over. You want your commitment to LGBTQIA+ causes to shine all year round! Ongoing support demonstrates your sincerity and reinforces your organization's values.
Don't: Prioritize profits over people
When creating Pride-themed products or services, ensure that donating a significant portion of the proceeds to LGBTQIA+ charities or organizations is part of the equation. Allyship is more than just profiting off the LGBTQIA+ community. Show your dedication to making a change by actively giving back.
Don't: Stereotype or tokenize
As an inclusive brand, strive to avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes or tokenizing LGBTQIA+ individuals in marketing campaigns. While it's essential to portray diverse and respectful representation in advertising and promotional materials, remember that authenticity is key!
Throwing a rainbow on your logo for Pride Month can feel hollow, especially when there's no concrete support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Show consumers that your brand is committed to making a difference in queer communities by going beyond superficial displays of pride.
Don't: Treat the LGBTQIA+ community as a monolith
The LGBTQIA+ community is as diverse as a rainbow itself, filled with unique identities, experiences, and perspectives. Embracing that diversity in your marketing and brand engagement efforts will create a more genuine connection with your audience.
How brands can celebrate Pride Month the right way: the dos
A powerful way to show your brand's genuine support is by donating a portion of the profits from Pride-themed products or services directly to LGBTQIA+ organizations. This demonstrates that you're not only profiting off the community but also helping make a tangible difference.
Do: Promote year-round inclusion
Don't let your commitment to inclusivity end once the calendar flips to July. Showcase that your brand understands the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout the year with continuous efforts in your marketing strategies and corporate culture.
Do: Implement inclusive hiring practices
Attract and retain a diverse workforce by actively recruiting and supporting LGBTQIA+ employees. Promoting an inclusive environment not only benefits your brand image but also bolsters creativity, productivity, and overall brand performance.
Do: Create partnerships with LGBTQIA+ organizations and influencers
Establish partnerships with LGBTQIA+ organizations and influencers for year-round projects and campaigns. This can generate a more significant impact and create a stronger connection between your brand and the queer community.
Do: Educate employees
Equip your employees with essential knowledge by offering regular education and training sessions focused on LGBTQIA+ issues. This promotes a more inclusive company culture, strengthens understanding, and ensures that your brand is a safe, supportive space.
Do: Listen and learn
Engage actively with the LGBTQIA+ community by attending events, listening to their unique experiences, and keeping an open mind to learn and adapt your brand's practices. This further solidifies the relationship between your brand and the community.
LGBTQIA+ organizations worth your support
If your brand is looking for organizations to align with, donate to, or support, look no further. Here are three organizations we suggest, but keep in mind there are countless others that are worthy of your consideration:
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is a beacon of hope for LGBTQIA+ youth, offering vital crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. They also provide resources and support for mental health issues. Visit their website at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ for more information.
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
With advocacy and education at its core, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation works tirelessly to end discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community and provide resources for individuals and allies. Find out more at https://www.hrc.org/.
National Center for Transgender Equality
Focused on promoting awareness and fighting for transgender rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality works to combat discrimination and violence against the transgender community. Discover more about their efforts at https://transequality.org/.
Pride Month is a fantastic opportunity for brands to showcase their commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community. Let's go beyond symbolic demonstrations of support and strive for meaningful, lasting allyship.
By following these dos and don'ts, your brand can become a reliable partner to the LGBTQIA+ community, not only during Pride Month but all year long. After all, there's always room at the table for allies who are committed to making a genuine impact.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is a yearly celebration in June, honoring and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. It marks the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and promotes acceptance, diversity, and equal rights.
How can brands celebrate Pride Month?
Brands can celebrate Pride Month by working with LGBTQIA+ organizations, launching inclusive products, promoting workforce diversity, and sharing LGBTQIA+ stories – all with genuine, long-term commitment.
What is rainbow washing?
Rainbow washing is when companies use LGBTQIA+ symbols during Pride Month to boost their image without truly supporting the community, often through superficial actions.
How can businesses connect genuinely with the LGBTQIA+ community?
Businesses can genuinely connect with the LGBTQIA+ community by actively listening to and supporting them, partnering with LGBTQIA+ organizations, advocating for their rights, and fostering inclusive workplaces.
How can a business be more inclusive?
A business can be more inclusive by promoting diverse hiring, offering comprehensive benefits, providing diversity training, and encouraging open communication, creating a welcoming environment for everyone.
_About the author
As Content Manager, Mike brings over 10+ years of content marketing experience to the Corporate Marketing team. He is a veteran writer who specializes in engaging, well-written, and accessible content, and he’s covered a range of verticals including SaaS, marketing, entertainment, journalism, and cannabis. At Viral Nation, he’s handled technical writing and copywriting, in addition to owning the blog and creating numerous case studies that showcase some of Viral Nation’s best work. In his off-time, Mike dabbles in music, rap, and spoken word poetry, and he excels at making his friends and colleagues roll their eyes at his cringe-level puns.