With the arrival of Pride month, companies are flocking to show their support by hanging up pride flags in their windows and turning their logos into bright and colourful rainbow editions. But what exactly are these companies and brands doing to support LGBTQ+ issues? Does their show of support impact LGBTQ+ issues, or is it just a branding endeavour?
What Is ‘Pinkwashing?’
Pinkwashing is a term used to describe companies, organizations, countries, or government bodies who pretend to act positively towards LGBTQ+ issues but, in reality, their behaviours contradict their words: harmful behaviours continue.
June is Pride month, with many companies across the globe trying to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. But what are companies actually doing other than changing their logo? A new study has found that 25 companies who have suggested their advocacy for the LGTBQ+ community have donated more than $10 million to anti-LGBTQ politicians.
Which Companies Are Setting an Example?
While we could spend a lot of time naming and shaming the companies who are taking advantage of the commercialisation of pride, attention is better placed on the companies who are putting the effort in to create change.
1. Newcastle City Council
The Stonewall Workplace Equality Index named Newcastle City Council as the most LGBTQ+ inclusive employer in the U.K in 2020. The list ranks organisations on how well they treat their LGBTQ+ staff. Newcastle City Council also ranked 5th in the top 100 UK employers for workplace equality and has been recognised as a top trans-inclusive employer. The council keeps inclusion at the forefront of their mind when making decisions regarding HR policies, employee recruitment and internal/external communications.
US company PayPal is renowned for being inclusive and advocating for equal rights. The company proved its loyalty to the LGBTQ+ community when they revoked their planned Charlotte expansion over the passing of House Bill 2, a new North Carolina law that reduced legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that PayPal received a perfect rating of 100% from the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index an impressive six years in a row.
Aviva is a British multinational insurance company that has 33 million customers across 16 countries. The company has an impressive track record when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and as a result, it has made their workplace much more diverse and inclusive. This year Aviva is working with BeLonG To Youth Services to help raise money for young LGBTQ+ individuals in Ireland. Their active work for the pride community has allowed staff to feel as though they can be themselves at work. Aviva was listed in Stonewall’s top 20 trans employers in 2020.
Microsoft has also consistently earned perfect ratings from the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. Their advocacy for marginalised groups started way back in 1993 when Microsoft was one of the first companies in the world to provide employee benefits to same-sex partners. GLEAM is the LGBTQ+ network group at Microsoft and members interact through talks, lunches, sporting events, activities, networking events and more. The importance of this cannot be overstated as groups such as GLEAM give employees a chance to have meaningful conversations in safe places.
While conversation is key in creating meaningful change, it cannot be achieved without changes in behaviour. The adage that ‘actions speak louder than words’ holds true. Whilst there is a way to go, companies like the ones we’ve highlighted prove that where there is a will, the organisational experience for LGBTQ+ individuals can be different.