June 25, 2020
Brace yourselves – the rainbows are coming. Although most physical Pride events have been cancelled this year, we can still expect a full turnout of supporting corporations putting their best foot forward as they dust off the rainbow carpet, diversify their advertising and temporarily adopt more vibrant, inclusive logos.
Personally, I see this as a positive measure of our continued progress toward true equality – and that can’t be overstated. But, as marketing teams embrace the rainbow and advertising is suddenly peppered with same-sex couples promoting everything from kitchens to vodka, this collective stamp of approval must be viewed critically. Yes, setting the bunting aside for a moment, now more than ever, it’s important to balance corporate initiatives with the real spirit of Pride – freedom, acceptance, and equality.
For many organisations, efforts around Pride will end abruptly on June 30th (if not sooner), but as the last logo reverts to its original colours, we need to ask some fundamental questions. How are these brands continuing to promote inclusion and positively impact the bigger picture for the rest of the year? Are they supporting marginalised groups within the LGBTQ community? How are they driving constructive conversation around depression, teen suicide, disproportionate health crises, homophobic violence and other endemic issues?
In short, inclusivity must be approached as a marathon, not a sprint. The way organisations conduct themselves once the fanfare dies down is the truest reflection of a brand’s commitment to LGBTQ rights. And when you know exactly what to look out for, the reality is eye-opening at best, hypocritical, damaging and regressive at worst.
With such dichotomy, I’m proud to work somewhere that can confidently walk the talk. One of our most quoted core values is a ‘commitment to diversity’ – and when it comes to that, we’re all in. This manifests itself every day through thorough anti-discrimination policies, meaningful contributions to LGBTQ causes, visibility throughout our leadership and a sustained effort to create the most inclusive, supportive environment possible. Perhaps most important are the barrier-breaking, non gender-stereotypical, equitable benefits for LGBTQ employees and parents, from which I personally benefit.
So, while there will be much corporate distraction this month, we must look beyond the sea of rainbows and start asking the uncomfortable questions. It’s encouraging to see such strong support from big name brands, temporarily improving visibility for the LGBTQ community worldwide, but it’s important to remember one thing. Modifying a logo is easy, but permanent changes in behaviour and a year-round commitment to make a difference in the world takes effort. And that’s precisely where the focus should be right now.