What you should know: Rainbow-Washing | leSkimm
Nine years after the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, gay rights activist Gilbert Baker created and paraded the first rainbow flag. Fast forward to June 2021: Companies (think: Walmart, CVS, AT&T) have started adding rainbow colors to their logos on social media. The move is an attempt to show their support for the LGBTQ + community during Pride Month. But LGBTQ + activists say this show of solidarity from some companies is just a facade since their company policies show a different side to their supposed activism. And accuse them of washing the rainbow.
Here’s what you need to know about rainbow wash
Rainbow-washing is when a business publicly shows its support for the LGBTQ + community (think: changing social media avatars or posting statements of support at the start of Pride Month) but privately engages in practices harmful to those who identify as LGBTQ +.
In 2019, Judd Legum, who writes the political newsletter, Popular Information, researched companies that have internal policies supporting LGBTQ + employees. In his research, he found that some of these companies also gave money (through corporate PACs) to politicians who did not sponsor or support LGBTQ + legislation.
These are some of the companies caught up with the Rainbow Hand.
CVS Health: During this year’s Pride Month, he traded in his usual white heart logo for a rainbow on Twitter. But since 2019, has donated around $ 4,000 to Texas state senators who sponsored a bill prohibiting parents from allowing their children to receive gender-affirming medical care.
Wells Fargo: In early June, he changed his Twitter banner to a rainbow specter. Since 2019, he has donated $ 1,000 to a North Carolina state senator who allegedly shared anti-trans articles on social media.
Comcast: On June 1, his brand Xfinity tweeted a pledge to honor Pride all year round. But since 2019, Comcast has given $ 2,000 to a Florida lawmaker who introduced a bill to exclude trans women from school sports teams.
Walmart: It launched a Pride & Joy section in 2021 on its website to sell pride-themed products. But the company has given nearly $ 30,000 since 2019 to Arkansas lawmakers who recently helped pass a bill to ban gender-affirming treatment for trans youth.
AT&T: In June 2021, he used the hashtag #TurnUpTheLove on Twitter to show his support for LGBTQ + youth. But donated approximately $ 22,000 between 2017 and 2018 to a Tennessee senator who voted against a 2009 hate crimes bill that extends protections to the LGBTQ + community.
How LGBTQ + employees feel at work
A LinkedIn survey of LGBTQ + professionals revealed that …
25% were refused raises or promotions because of their identity
31% openly faced micro-attacks or discrimination
25% more left their job after not feeling accepted
On top of that, another survey found that around 50% believed that being at work could be detrimental to their careers.
But the government has made some progress. In 2020, SCOTUS expanded the list of what constitutes discrimination in the workplace and added that people cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here’s what you can do to combat rainbow wash
Talk to your HR department. They will usually have information about your company policies, DCI’s efforts, and how to report harassment or discrimination.
Do your own research before spending any money. Businesses can support lawmakers whose actions may not align with your political views. But you can check out Federal Election Commission records on how much money companies donate to specific political campaigns.
Call your elected officials. Let them know your opinion on the LGBTQ + legislation you would like them to act on, including the equality law.
Train yourself to be an ally. We have tips on how to be an active spectator if you witness harassment or discrimination.
Inquire. Learn about issues that impact the LGBTQ + community (such as mental health stigma, their personal experiences, and the best ways to support them).
It’s 2021 and some companies are offering support but not showing up for the LGBTQ + community in their political donations. So, before you spend your hard earned money, make sure you know the facts. And as LGBTQ + Americans continue to report discrimination in the workplace, the battle continues to ensure that a company’s show of alliance on the outside actually leads to concrete action on the inside.
Skimm’d by Sana Dadani, Maria Martinolich and Kamini Ramdeen