NEWS14 June 2024

Activists alert to ‘rainbow-washing’ during Pride month

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US – Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are alert to businesses that wave the flag during pride month but that fail to back up their public gestures with year-round support, a new survey has found.

Pride flag inclusion_crop

Research conducted by SurveyMonkey, for Curiosity at Work, asked the views of 4,000 US adults, including 2,079 who self-identified as LGBTQA+ or as an “ally to the community”.

It found that people expect a consistent, year-round commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. Performative or superficial gestures, often called "rainbow washing", are met with scepticism and can damage trust.

Among LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies, 40% said their workplace was offering Pride month activities, but 30% said their workplace didn’t do enough to support LGBTQIA+ employees year-round ( 40% among just LGBTQIA+ employees). 

In addition, 40% said the gravest error a company could make during Pride month was to overlook internal issues such as discrimination, harassment, or the absence of inclusive policies within their organisation.

Other key findings include:

  • 64% believe companies’ efforts are mostly performative gestures rather than a meaningful commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • 29% believe that "rainbow-washing" or “pinkwashing” is the worst mistake a company can make in celebrating Pride
  • 34% don't think companies are listening to LGBTQIA+ perspectives when planning for Pride

Companies’ internally focused educational initiatives and ongoing support for LGBTQIA+ rights are viewed as more authentic and meaningful Pride activities than public-facing events or campaigns, the survey showed.

Hosting educational panels or workshops on LGBTQIA+ topics is seen as the most genuine Pride month initiative.