Are We Over the Rainbow?

Are We Over the Rainbow?

The rainbow logo has become an icon of Pride season across the world. Firms close to our heart like Coca-Cola, Tiffany & Co and Lush, just to name a few, have used multicoloured and fun versions of their usual corporate logos to celebrate with us. And with so much of 2017’s summer centred around more spectacular than ever Pride events, it isn’t surprising that brands want a slice of the conversation.

But months on from Pride, many of the brands sporting rainbow logos haven’t yet committed to full time diversity and inclusion campaigns. So is the rainbow logo just another over-commercialisation of important cultural events for a minority group?

The rainbow logo is framed as an act of allyship, solidarity and celebration. Whilst it would be cynical to suggest good intentions were not at all a factor, not committing to full time LGBT+ campaigns and inclusion efforts only makes the temporariness of the logo more noticeable.

Rainbow logos may be for Pride, but the LGBT+ community is permanent. It seems that the rainbow logo has become a strategic point on the inclusion calendar rather than the first step in a wider effort to mitigate the struggles that many LGBT+ peoples face in the workplace and as consumers.

UCLA’s Williams Institute found that over 21% of LGBT+ people reported discrimination in pay, hiring and promotions in the workplace. 19% of LGBT+ people experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last five years according to Gay in Britain and Engendered Penalties. Problems are widespread and the employers whose marketing strategy includes the rainbow logo do have a duty to use the benefits they reap from tapping into a trendy market to work hard to protect and better their LGBT+ employees. Furthermore, brands using the rainbow logo should be working towards a better global community for all.

Lush in 2015 used the rainbow logo to celebrate Pride and the landmark ruling from the US Supreme Court in favour of gay marriage. Their campaign was one of the few that stretched further than its profit margins. Lush partnered with All Out, an LGBT+ charity that is fighting against the criminalisation of homosexuality across the world. The profit from their Love soap bars raised £250,000 and grassroots and global LGBT+ charities could then apply for a cut of the money raised to aid their efforts. Lush’s campaign is just one of a few companies who have started to take their commitment to the LGBT+ community seriously.

Even at Royal Holloway, societies and groups changed their logos and whilst this is a great step towards boosting visibility for our LGBT+ communities, it is still a tokenistic effort. These logo changes should be coupled with LGBT+ focused content and a real effort to tackle the issues of discrimination, invisibility and erasure we face on this campus.

Remember next Pride season, or at any time where rainbow logos are used, to ask that organisation what they are actually doing to better LGBT+ peoples. If the answer is nothing, rethink your loyalty and favour an organisation that takes us seriously.

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