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Rainbow Washing

Via @SoYouWantToTalkAbout on Instagram

Every June, like clockwork, brands roll out rainbow logos and capitalize on Pride Month. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “rainbow-washing”. It is a strategic marketing move deployed by large brands with the aim of selling Pride-themed merchandise and capitalizing off of Pride Month.

While it’s great that these brands take the time to acknowledge the month and make statements about inclusivity, are they actually doing anything outside of performative rebranding to include a rainbow in their June marketing?

Examples of rainbow-washing include:

  • Brands changing their logos on social media to be rainbow-colored only during the month of June.
  • Brands using social media to highlight LGBTQIA+ employees or team members only during the month of June.
  • Brands selling “capsule collections” of Pride merchandise only during the month of June.
  • Stores and brands hanging rainbow flags only during the month of June.
  • Brands highlighting the LGBTQIA+ community in marketing materials, like clothing and makeup ads, only during the month of June.

You can visit hrc.org/resources/corporate-equality-index to check out the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. This measures the policies and practices indicative of employers’ commitment to equality.

Additionally, if you are shopping online and see Pride-themed merchandise during the month of June, be critical, and look into whether or not the company is donating profits from the sale of Pride merchandise to non-profits that are working to benefit the LGBTQIA+ community. (Many websites will include this information within product descriptions.)

You can even go a step further and look into who these companies support the other 11 months of the year. Corporations and the individuals that work for them spend millions of dollars each year funding political candidates and their committees. Use Progressive Shopper to find information about companies’ political leanings and any other nefarious information that you should consider before spending your money with them.

Consider shopping at/with LGBTQIA+-owned businesses for your Pride gear as well – many are easily accessible in online marketplaces such as Etsy.

Pride doesn’t exist just in the month of June!

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