Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com


June was LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2021, an annual, month-long celebration held to reflect on and celebrate the impact that the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer, intersex, asexual, etc.) community has had on U.S. history, both past and present. Commemorated through events, parades, workshops, picnics, concerts and other social gatherings, and recognized across the globe at different times throughout the year, the American holiday was launched in the aftermath of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, marking the beginning of the gay rights movement. Along with the triumphs of the LGBTQIA+ community, those who lost their lives due to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS are also recognized during this time. 

From a brand and business standpoint, showing support for the LGBTQIA+ community may certainly score points with potential clients—but like other causes, such as sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion, the support must come from a genuine place. Here’s two ideas to consider.

Avoid rainbow-washing. One of the most common marketing mistakes to avoid, according to Forbes and SmartInsights, is rainbow-washing; the use of rainbows, the pride symbol, to create aesthetically pleasing campaigns. Referred to as “rainbow capitalism,” companies are now being accused of profiting from the sales of LGBTQIA-themed products without actually making steps to support the community. Although colorful rainbows may, indeed, do the trick of attracting prospective clients to an ad, it doesn’t effectively tell the story of pride or why pride is important to a business. SmartInsights writes, “there is a big difference between supporting a community and fulfilling a brand purpose.” While rainbow-colored products may be attractive, doing nothing more is hardly effective in helping to further the cause. Consider taking additional action, such as donating to related causes or organizations, or supporting legislation that is pro-LGBTQIA+.

Create a culture that supports LGBTQIA+. If your company supports the pride movement, it must also support employees who are members of this community, writes Forbes. Create an environment of inclusivity and encourage LGBTQIA+ employees to provide their feedback on work-related issues, from working with clients and designing campaigns, to workplace conduct. When designing marketing campaigns to promote your business, incorporate members of the LGBTQIA+ community into these campaigns, not only during Pride Month, but year-round. Share news year-round about company products by partnering with LGBTQIA+ influencers and nonprofits, writes Forbes, and serve as a voice for this community.

An interesting campaign conducted by Gap, Inc. in 2015 featured 13 of its employees who were members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and each shared their experiences with coming out. Videos of the employees were created as part of GLAAD’s—a American media-monitoring organization supporting the LGBTQIA+ community—#GotYourBack campaign. By participating in the campaign, Gap showed that it was an inclusive workplace and one that’s supportive of employees who are members of this community—both during Pride Month and all year long. Participating in the campaign also provided employees with an avenue by which to share their experience, thus creating the space for others to relate, identify, reach out and connect—or to share their story with others as well.  


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.