7 Ways For Brands To Avoid Rainbow-Washing The LGBTQ+ Community This Pride Month

Introduction & Definition 

Rainbow-Washing, a recently coined term, starts to get used as we loom close to Pride Month. Now that the month is upon us, we can expect to see many brands embracing the occasion with rainbow-themed logos, products and campaigns. Although large companies are crucial in initiating and supporting widespread change across a nation, in recent years there have been growing concerns about the authenticity and intentions behind brands celebrating Pride. 

This phenomenon, called ‘Rainbow-Washing’ refers to the practice of companies using rainbow symbolism and LGBTQ+ themed marketing to portray themselves as allies to the community and gain additional profits, often during this month of celebration, without making meaningful efforts to support causes or address issues faced by the community. While visually appealing and seemingly supportive, these campaigns can often be seen as exploitative, diluting the true purpose of Pride Month and eroding the progress made by the movement.

In my personal circle, I’m seeing more people choosing to avoid Pride events because they have become too focused on promoting companies and less concerned with genuine support and care for the community.  

The widespread celebration of Pride is important, as there are still 64 countries with laws that criminalise homosexuality and even in the UK, 2022 saw a 41% increase in hate crimes due to sexual orientation and 56% increase in hate crimes towards transgender people. The community is still in continuous need of support and companies play a key role in this.

Pride March


Superficial vs. Substantive Support 

The issue arises when there is a discrepancy between the public-facing identity of a company and the internal practices and efforts. True support for the community involves more than just a vibrant display of rainbow colours. It requires genuine understanding, empathy, and action. Companies at risk of rainbow-washing tend to focus solely on aesthetics without addressing the systemic challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Meaningful support involves promoting inclusivity within their own organisations, providing equal opportunities, and advocating for rights and protections in their policies and practices. 

There are even companies that will plaster their social channels with a rainbow-themed logo for Pride whilst also donating funds to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. This is a key example of rainbow-washing and what the community is currently trying to tackle. An outward display of allyship must always be accompanied by true genuine effort to support the community and the issues that people face.

Companies engaging in rainbow-washing can be seen as capitalising off a marginalised community and reducing the significance of Pride Month to a marketing opportunity, which in turn trivialises the real struggles faced by individuals.


Marketing to The Community 

There are approximately, at a minimum,  1.5 million people in the UK alone that identify as a part of the community which in purchasing power equates to over £6 billion per year, this is a huge sector of people that brands are rightfully looking to target and should make sure to be inclusive to in their marketing efforts. It’s evidenced that ads containing LGBTQ+ imagery will be positively influential towards those that identify as LGBTQ+, and therefore companies should continue to put dedicated marketing efforts towards this audience. 

This article is not aimed to discourage companies from creating content for Pride but instead to encourage companies that are celebrating Pride to ensure they are also putting in meaningful, sustained effort to support causes. 


Avoiding Rainbow-Washing And Where to Start 

Depending on the size of a company, supporting LGBTQ+ causes is going to look different. It’s important to note that it doesn’t need to cost a lot, but it does require a little bit of effort. Although Pride is a celebration, it is rooted in the need to collectively demand equal rights, treatment and opportunities for individuals, as this is the central pillar that companies should come back to when looking to offer meaningful support. Here are some examples of actions that companies can take: 

  1. Give support year-round, not just during the celebratory month of June. It’s ok to create special content during Pride but don’t forget to show commitment for all 365 days.   
  2. Be coherent and consistent between your public image and your internal processes. 
  3. Actively listen to the community, and engage in dialogue.
  4. Collaborate with LGBTQ+ organisations, creators and activists to effect positive change.
  5. Prioritise diversity and inclusion within your workforce, policies, and product offerings. Create opportunities for all inside your company.
  6. Donate to organisations that advance LGBTQ+ rights. Some examples include; Pride Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and Fighting With Pride.
  7. Use one’s voice and platform to demand change.

Pride march



While the colourful social channels during Pride month does give a really positive temporary burst of visibility for the community, there are true consequences of in-action or even detrimental actions by companies. There is a huge and growing market that brands can utilise, and companies have an opportunity to engage a large new audience if done in the right way. Genuine and authentic allyship requires going beyond surface-level gestures, it requires acknowledging the ongoing challenges and putting in effort to drive positive change. Finally, if you’re interested, take a look at this video showcasing some companies that demonstrate rainbow-washing as well as other takes and perspectives on the subject, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGkVRLOqLNE

Furthermore, if you’re interested in knowing what PinPoint Media do for the community, please click here to see our Charter For Change: https://pinpoint-media.global/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/DEI-Community-Environment.pdf



Written by: Annabel Lawton Smith – Production Manager


If you’re interested in reading more blogs from PinPoint click here to read more here: https://pinpoint-media.global/insights/