Pride Month 2022 is still in the back view, but for many brands, corporate invitations to LGBTQ+ communities have already been put on hold until next year.
It’s a familiar sight: Every year in June, an abundance of companies—and there seem to be more and more each year—make rainbow slogans, a “come as you are” marketing strategy designed to sell everything from Skittles to vodka. Once the party is over, this “support” often stops blatantly.
A true alliance is an ongoing commitment – especially when the stakes are so high. New legislation threatening LGBTQ+ Americans is emerging nationally. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which limits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, went into effect on July 1. Following the dissolution of Roe v. Wade a week ago, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should “reconsider” the currently codified rights of same-sex relationships, same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives.
With things in mind, the review of the company’s ally seems urgent. What brands have been waving rainbow flags a few weeks ago that are actively raising the bar for LGBTQ+ today, and which ones were there just to get weird credibility?
And most importantly, how do you tell the difference?
Performative ally? Or real support?
There is a catchy phrase for companies using Pride Month to earn capital while doing little, if any, to support LGBT+ people. It’s called “rainbow wash”.
This happens to varying degrees. Some companies promote pride merchandise while simultaneously funding anti-LGBT politicians’ campaigns; Others present themselves as supporters of pride while counting few (or no) LGBT employees in their company.
The truth is that there is a lot of money to be made by marketing to LGBTQ+ Americans – according to the nonprofit Pride Co-op, the purchasing power of this community reached $1.4 trillion in 2021. Many companies “hijack the celebration… in order to Transaction value, says Diane Primo, founder of Purpose Brand Agency.
Walmart, for example, has a “Pride & Joy” landing page full of rainbow merchandise, but no real information about where most of its revenue goes (except, probably, to Walmart).
And while a press release from Walmart says it donated $500,000 this year to the grassroots LGBTQ+ organization PFLAG, it is missing from the list of ongoing brands (284 as of this writing) that have signed the “Statement of Action against the Anti-Human Rights Campaign” (HRC) State LGBTQ legislation.” Meanwhile, in Arizona, where Walmart is headquartered, nearly 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed this year alone. (Walmart provided the money with information regarding allied 2021 LGBTQ+ initiatives, but it did not accept We asked for an interview regarding ongoing projects).
Perhaps one of Pride’s memorable recent campaigns was Verizon’s “Love Calls Back,” which encouraged reconnection in families with strained relationships with LGBTQ+ members. The wireless company first partnered with PFLAG in 2019, and to this day Verizon remains a founding partner of the organization.
The company also promotes its strategies for inclusivity in the workplace, which includes an employee resource suite called PRISM through which the company offers networking and volunteer opportunities, youth crisis advice, and more. However, Verizon has not been forthcoming about its donation of more than $500,000 to anti-LGBT politicians, according to a 2022 report from Popular Information. That’s less than donations from some of the other wireless companies (ahem, AT&T). However, donations are flying in the face of the “universal world” that Verizon’s forward-facing rhetoric is promoting. (Verizon did not respond to Money’s request for an interview.)
Recently, Pop-Tarts – a trademark of Kellogg’s company – called on LGBTQ + artist Thaddeus Coates to design a limited edition Pride Box. This endeavor was created in conjunction with NEON, a GLAAD subsidiary working specifically to raise the profile of the Black LGBTQ+ community. Each of the $10,000 grants were awarded to two Bronx-based literacy groups, a popular LGBTQ+org group, a LGBT-owned bar and POC in Chicago, and an independent library in California that specializes in media presentation of stories of black women, women, and gender-wide people. . A portion of Pride Box sales also went directly to these initiatives, and Pop-Tarts themselves contributed $100,000 to GLAAD.
But Kellogg’s company also acted contrary to its purported values. Like many corporate political action committees, Kellogg’s PAC has made generous donations to both Democrats and Republicans—many of whom run public anti-gay campaigns. In the current election cycle, Kellogg’s PAC has donated 36% more money to the Republican Party than Democrats, according to the campaign finance nonprofit Open Secrets.
Unlike Walmart, Kellogg she has Sign the Human Rights Council’s statement opposing the anti-LGBT legislation. But according to Open Secrets, her PAC is also a recent recipient of three Republican state representatives who voted against protecting gay marriage last July: Troy Balderson (Ohio), Bill Huizinga (Michigan) and John Molinar (Michigan).
In an email response to questions, Kellogg emphasized her commitment to “equality, diversity and inclusion”; She cites both employee benefit offerings (which include local partner benefits and adoption benefits) and corporate partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations such as GLADD. The company refused to hold an official interview.
What brands are doing it right?
Let’s make one thing clear: Few, if any, companies are flawless allies.
there be Some companies go beyond color public images to act as true allies – but it takes a little due diligence on your part to separate out what the company is. Says He does for LGBTQ+ people for what he does In fact Do.
You should look for companies that:
- Donate generously to LGBTQ+ organizations, especially nonprofits and small gatherings with direct local impact.
- Enjoy an inclusive workplace culture
- Promote positive and diverse representations of LGBT people in their advertising campaigns throughout the year (not just during Pride Month).
- Don’t give money to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians
It’s not easy to find a large company ticking every one of these boxes (although a few brands, like Levi’s and Sephora, are noteworthy exceptions). But there are plenty of smaller LGBTQ+ owned stores that are worth a lot of your dollars. Annual lists compiled by LGTBQ+ publications like Autostraddle, Everywhere Is Queer, and the queer-owned Etsy brand are good places to start. Goodbuy, a browser extension that points you in the direction of products that match your values (and away from the big retailers), is another excellent choice.
Consciously shopping doesn’t have to mean eliminating every well-known brand you’ve ever given money for. More than 800 companies have been ranked 100% by HRC’s 2022 Business Equality Index, including household names like Amazon and Adidas. That’s not to say that those companies – or their voting records – are perfect, but since HRC keeps tabs on things like diversity training, local partner benefits, and cross-gender benefits, it indicates progress.
When in doubt, try looking at the company’s workplace culture for yourself. Is it featured at LGBTQ+ job fairs, and actively working to recruit members of the community? Does the employee handbook contain guidance on gender-affirming toilets and dress code policies? These considerations are especially important for companies like Walmart and Amazon that rely heavily on young wage workers. (Transgender youth face more challenges when searching for work than gender-compliant youth, according to Victoria Kirby, deputy executive director at the National Black Justice Alliance.)
Likewise, employee resource groups for LGBTQ+ workers – where internal discussions about quality of life at work can take place – are a good sign. The lack of marginalized people at the top of the organization—managers, board members, CEOs, etc.—is a bad thing.
Another way to investigate? Google’s company name and “LGBT”, and see what pops up. When a company discriminates against a marginalized group – or gives money to a politician who does – the Internet usually turns up and does its job, allowing Know all social media Just because a brand markets itself as pro-LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean it’s actually pro-LGBTQ+.
Companies can be a force for positive change, says Mila Jam, musician and senior advisor for global transportation initiatives at Foreign Leadership. But adding a rainbow logo to a once-a-year ad spot isn’t the ultimate goal.
Jam says the corporate alliance “doesn’t end with a conversation.” “It ends up working.”
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