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Rainbow Washing: Stop that. Start Doing These Three Things.

As another glorious Pride Month comes to a conclusion, let’s keep the celebration alive in our heads and hearts for the remainder of the year. In the vibrant world of marketing, the rainbow has become a symbol of diversity and inclusivity, a beacon for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. However, as more corporations use June to fly the rainbow flag, it’s crucial to discern between genuine advocacy and what some call ‘rainbow-washing’.

Rainbow-washing is the practice of corporations superficially expressing support for the LGBTQIA2S+ community, particularly during Pride Month, without substantial commitment or action towards the cause. It’s a marketing strategy that capitalizes on the struggles of a marginalized group, often leaving them feeling exploited rather than supported.

As educated, well-informed professionals advocating for inclusivity and diversity, it’s our responsibility to recognize and challenge rainbow-washing. Here are three ways to do so:

Embrace Diversity Beyond the Campaigns

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just career training buzzwords. They profoundly impact the lives of people directly affected by systems designed to keep them out of the conversation. To genuinely support the LGBTQIA2S+ community, brands need to put their money where their mouth is.

Invest in diverse hiring practices, create safe spaces for LGBTQIA2S+ employees, and ensure your products and services are inclusive. This way, your brand can step out of the dark ages and reach new audiences beyond Pride Month and all year round.

Build Meaningful Initiatives Internally

Supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community goes beyond rainbow logos and Pride parades. Build meaningful initiatives internally and communicate them to your community year-round. This could be through employee resource groups, mental health support, or inclusive policies.

Then, when championing advocacy in campaigns, a community has been built alongside that knows your brand or business isn’t just talking about it; you are acting on it. This creates space for the community to support the efforts and foster loyalty by knowing that your brand or company values are inclusive and genuinely care about moving the needle forward. 

Be Real

Authenticity is key. The LGBTQIA2S+ community, like any other, values sincerity. If your brand genuinely supports the community, it will show in your actions, not just your marketing campaigns.

Remember, the goal is not to avoid the rainbow but to ensure it represents real change, not just a marketing strategy. Let’s ensure our actions match our words and that our support for the LGBTQIA2S+ community is not limited to a month but a year-round commitment.

As marketers and brands, we have the power to shape societal narratives. Let’s use that power responsibly, not just to sell products but to make a real difference. 

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Ashley Nedaei

Ashley is the Director of Marketing at Notable Life Inc. As an audacious and creative entrepreneurial spirit, she splits her time between raising her two sons with her husband and toy poodle and creative pursuits in music, beauty, and business. Follow her adventures @ndaiart.