What is rainbow wash? (and how you can avoid it in your company)

July
29, 2021

8 minutes read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur because of this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.


June, the month of LGBTQ + pride, seems to be a gigantic festival in different countries around the world. People with extravagant clothes and colorful flags come out to flood the streets of their city. Although this is a very noticeable part of the movement of this group, only this side is clouded with ignorance.

Surely you've seen that many brands seem to paint rainbows around that LGBTQ + community and don't mention them for the rest of the year. This is known as Wash rainbow .

The term rainbow washing refers to when a company, organization or personality uses images and symbols of the LGBTQ + community to advertise a product or service without substantially supporting the movement.

“It is very easy to decide that you are starting a rainbow campaign, but it is just as easy to decide that you are donating a percentage of your profits to a queer organization. They should do that from the start, ”said Andy Reynolds, an expert on LGBTQ + advertising, in an interview with Entrepreneurs in Español .

Unfortunately, many brands use the colorful and attractive side of the struggle to generate goods. Other companies just paint themselves in and claim to be allies in June, but none of the strategies usually have a big undertone. You would have to make profound internal changes to truly see yourself as a company supporting the fight for LGBTQ +.

Why is Rainbows wash wrong ?

Image: Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash

It is important to understand why Wash rainbow is harmful to the LGBTQ + community. Many will think that they will benefit from having big brands giving them visibility, even if they keep the money. It may not be a direct damage, but the way Pride is presented in this superficial way makes the whole fight behind the celebration invisible.

The history of the community is very strong and violent. The people that make it up have lived through aggression and oppression for centuries. The flag that represents people fighting for their freedom to use only as a marketing strategy means showing only a very small part of what it means to be part of the LGBTQ + movement. The media are also partly responsible for the image of pride around the world because they only show what the audience wants to see, these are mostly controversial cases that are fashionable or very entertaining.

Reynolds is a publicist who focuses on LGBTQ + customers or companies they want to target. He has 20 years of experience in the industry and has worked with a wide variety of people throughout his career. He says only LGBTQ + media has declined, but that many allies are writing about it on mainstream sites today. However, it is difficult to get these media outlets to talk about topics that are not trending or as noticeable as others, so it is very complicated to promote LGBTQ + and get these people visibility.

It also tells how companies are trying to get the community visible in June, but even the way they present it on their websites is not authentic because they are not placing it on their homepage, but where it is To create a separate focuses all of your LGBTQ content *.

Put it on your homepage! If you have the courage to do so, tell the world that all of the people who are part of this community are welcome to your company. This also shows that you openly support the laws for this, ”comments the expert.

Businesses are ready to "show" their support to the community in order to appease their consumers who are allies or part of it. But when it comes to taking a political stance in favor of the community, many do not, and that is not essential support.

How can you go beyond marketing and build a responsible business?

Image: Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash

“First of all, it is about what happens in companies. It's the biggest action they can take, not a rebranding campaign trying to create a new face. What are you doing right now? Are your employees satisfied? Where is it on the list of “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ + Equity”? "Says Andy

What the community needs goes beyond representation in advertising campaigns. You need a safe job. Being an ally goes beyond marketing. A company needs to speak out about the problems of its LGBTQ + employees and establish policies to protect them.

To learn more about how to solve it from within, I spoke to Nico Barawid, CEO and Co-Founder of Casai, a company that has a technology platform that offers accommodation in Latin America and was built with ideals of inclusion. Nico talks about how it is important to him as part of the LGBT community that the company reflects his values ​​and can help with its services.

“It is important that it sells inclusive products, supports inclusive organizations and is a workplace where people can live and love openly. You can't achieve these goals by putting a rainbow in your logo, ”says Nico.

Nico shares three things that seem important to him when building an inclusive company.

  1. Make sure your business reflects the environment in which you operate
  2. Have very strong cultural values. "We have 5 values ​​that we use to rate people to make sure we want to promote or hire them."
  3. Check that your HR policy is inclusive from the start. It's easier to build a conscious company from scratch than trying to change it elsewhere.

How do you know if a company is a true ally?

Image: Delia Giandeini via Unsplash

Many people believe that a conscientious consumer requires a lot of research. On the one hand, that's true, but Andy Reynolds points out that it now only takes one person to find out and share on social media. You can check the annual lists that show the best companies to work for. There are also various blogs or network accounts that you can review.

If that's not available to you, or if you can't find any information about the company you're looking for, Nico recommends paying attention to what they're doing all year round, not just June.

“It's important to see the marketing that they use all year round. Are the people who appear diverse? Are there different races, genders, and orientations throughout the year, or just when there is a month when they are expected to? It is also very important to look at the product, is it made for everyone or only for a certain type of person? "Explains Nico.

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