Corporate Pride: A Double-Edged Sword for the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community

By Mckayla White on July 8, 2024

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A group of diverse people holding rainbow Pride flags as they lean against a yellow wall.

Last month was Pride Month! And with Pride Month comes corporate Pride, also known as rainbow capitalism. Corporate Pride is when companies celebrate Pride Month—also labelled as rainbow-washing, the strategic use of 2SLGBTQIA+ branding without supporting the community. Usually, it is just a temporary logo or branding change. Sometimes, advertising highlights more 2SLGBTQIA+ issues than usual, and occasionally, companies donate or raise funds for 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations. Like with everything, there are both positives and negatives to corporate Pride, and some people feel very strongly about it. 

The good and the bad

Corporate Pride has very mixed opinions. Some people love it, some hate it, but most people, like myself, have a mixed opinion.

On the one hand, corporate Pride is great because not only is it fun to see and be represented, but the promotion of inclusivity and Pride is so important. Exposure to the queer community and the issues we face can normalize it for people who are ignorant about or against 2SLGBTQIA+ rights. The more normal and accepted it is, the more likely opinions will change, and more people will not only accept it but fight for it. 

A company that does corporate Pride right is Skittles, which celebrates Pride in significant ways. Skittles is known to change their colourful packaging to grey during Pride month because only one rainbow matters. This year, Skittles partnered with GLAAD, a non-profit that focuses on the 2SLGBTQIA+, to help queer people find communities. They are also sending free Pride hip packs to people who donate $75+ to GLAAD and are matching donations up to $25,000. 

On the other hand, a lot of people feel that corporate Pride is exploitative and like an empty promise, which is 100% true. During Pride Month, companies use the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to their advantage while not actually doing anything for the queer community and, in some cases, actually making it worse. However, some companies do take proactive stances and try to help during Pride Month, which is great, but it falls short if it is only during Pride Month. Another thing to consider is that when companies are shallowly inclusive, people from the Pride community might feel safer and prouder to support the companies while being lied to. It is a gross marketing tactic to appear inclusive while actually just capitalizing off of the queer community.

AT&T is a company that looks like it supports the queer community while using its money to tear the community down. AT&T claims to value the community, be a safe workplace, and donate money to 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations while also donating money to homophobic politicians.

So, which is it?

At the end of the day, it is difficult to say that corporate Pride is either good or bad. The reality is that it is both. Promoting inclusivity is essential and really is what Pride is all about. Change comes from promoting Pride and standing up for 2SLGBTQIA+ issues. But, many companies use Pride to their advantage while actually being passive when it comes to 2SLGBTQIA+ issues or fighting against the queer community. 

I would argue that corporate Pride is just slightly more beneficial than harmful. Companies will do terrible things regardless, and while it may be two-faced to promote Pride while actively fighting against it, they will likely not change their actions. While I would love for companies only to promote Pride if they truly support it, the fact is that having their brand be associated with Pride Month and promoting Pride is still beneficial.

The moral of the story is to be aware and do your research to find corporations that are actually inclusive and don’t just celebrate Pride on the surface. Together, we can ensure Pride goes beyond a logo change and becomes a catalyst for real change.

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