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What’s Rainbow Washing? And Why You Ought to Stop It Throughout Satisfaction Month

Each time June (Satisfaction Month) comes round, tons and plenty of manufacturers change their emblem to a “rainbowed” model as if it had been a contest. However is that this observe actually efficient for his or her picture? And, extra importantly, is that this actually serving to the LGBTQIA+ Group? Let’s reply the query and replicate on that for a second.

Being various isn’t just a whim from manufacturers. As we’ve got developed as a society, we discovered how the world is stuffed with inequities. In the present day, many organizations and international locations are working to scale back these issues. It’s not a coincidence that the United Nations (UN) has chosen gender equality and lowered inequality as one of many new targets for sustainable improvement.

Once we discuss concerning the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ group, illustration within the media is one thing quite common these days. As a consequence, manufacturers can really feel pressured to replicate this actuality of their communication. You recognize, everyone needs to be “stylish”.

Nonetheless, these makes an attempt to look or seem extra “various” or “inclusive” can fall on the superficiality and even simplify the difficulties. When this phenomenon occurs, the LGBTQIA+ group name it “Rainbow Washing” or “Pinkwashing,” a problem that firms ought to search to keep away from.

Let’s suppose. Why do manufacturers select to indicate themselves as various?

Youthful generations are extra conscious of among the world’s issues. Thus, they’re extra prepared to help extra altruistic causes. And that’s how variety and inclusion have grow to be one of many most important pursuits of those new generations. For instance, in keeping with Deloitte, 83% of millennials are extra engaged after they suppose their firm fosters an inclusive tradition.

As nobody needs to remain behind, the decision-makers of massive enterprises are searching for methods to satisfy the rising expectations of the overall viewers. Typically, they take a superb strategy and different occasions they don’t.

For instance, in a survey performed by Adobe, 38% of respondents mentioned they had been extra more likely to devour services from manufacturers that present variety of their advertisements. Furthermore, 34% have boycotted an organization a minimum of as soon as as a result of they don’t really feel their identities had been represented within the firms’ actions.

Additionally, you will need to know that being inclusive has grow to be one thing that has a optimistic affect on firms. In keeping with McKinsey, firms within the high quartile of gender variety are 15% extra more likely to have monetary returns above their nationwide business median. Corporations within the high quartile of racial/ethnic variety are 35% extra more likely to have monetary returns above their nationwide business median. 

The expansion of rainbow washing 

First, let’s get to know what Rainbow Washing is. As outlined by ThisIsGendered, it refers to the act of utilizing or including rainbow colours and/or imagery to promoting, attire, equipment, landmarks, et cetera, with the intention to point out progressive help for LGBTQIA+ equality (and earn shopper credibility) – however with a minimal of effort or pragmatic end result. 

On this line of concepts, it’s easy to see how numerous manufacturers make modifications to their emblem throughout the Satisfaction Month.  

Nonetheless, the choice to change branding sources will not be finished randomly. In idea, altering central branding units might help individuals to recollect the normal emblem extra simply.

However when everybody does it, on a regular basis, usually for a similar cause, and over the very same interval, is the impact nonetheless so spectacular? Will anybody even discover anymore, given each different model has the identical rainbow hue?

An instance of rainbow washing

A really polemic case of rainbow washing occurred with Barilla, a multinational meals firm. The whole lot began again in 2013 when the CEO, Guido Barilla, mentioned in a stay interview that he would by no means make a industrial with a gay household. Clearly, the remark brought about international outrage, producing the hashtag #boycotbarilla.

The disaster was a catalyst for speaking about Variety and Inclusion, and it took nearly 5 years to scrub the corporate’s popularity. Nonetheless, the criticism from the LGBTQIA+ group remains to be there. Barilla is nonetheless accused of pink washing. After the homophobic feedback of their CEO, including a rainbow to the package deal will not be sufficient to indicate solidarity with the group. 

This cautionary story teaches us that if we actually wish to enter the “LGBTQIA+ pleasant wave” we’ve got to verify to do it with the appropriate intentions.  

Variety finished proper 

Fortunately, we will nonetheless see some good examples of methods to be actually various. Adobe has launched an initiative that compasses its personal firm tradition, hiring various expertise from a terrific number of backgrounds. Additionally they take part in boards, conferences and donate to fundraising actions.

Certainly one of their best initiatives was Adobe For All Summit launched in 2019. The strategy of the occasion was to share finest practices and updates about variety and inclusion strategic progress.      

The lesson is: earlier than waving any flag, first you want cohesion inside your organization by way of tangible actions by making a tradition amongst all ranges of your group.

Different types of coloration washing

The issue doesn’t solely apply to Satisfaction Month. There are different types of coloration washing past  rainbow washing. 

First, let’s perceive coloration washing as an umbrella time period for the profit-driven observe of firms of deceptively speaking unsubstantiated values in services with the intention to enchantment and market them higher to socially and environmentally conscious customers, as outlined by the column of The Sustainable Style Matterz.

With this order of concepts, we will set the principal strategies of coloration washing:


It is rather generally used from LGBTQIA+ events. Nonetheless, it may also be associated to feminine empowerment, the place it promotes a feminist facade whereas having exploitative or unequal salaries in the direction of girls.


This speaks about delivering deceptive messages about sustainability practices. It occurs when a model calls itself “eco-friendly” however nonetheless fails at being sustainable of their processes.   


This phenomenon was quite common throughout the Black Lives Matter debate throughout 2020. It appeals to Black, Brown, Indigenous or individuals of coloration. It occurs so much when an organization seems to be supportive of this group however doesn’t implement inside practices to truly empower them.  


It’s when a model is one way or the other associated to a tragedy and doesn’t take accountability for what occurred. An instance of that is what occurred at Rana Plaza Collapse, the place the constructing collapsed on account of quite a lot of engineering and administrative failures. The tragedy mirrored the significance of restructuring the Style Business. The criticism got here when, even years after the tragedy, the retailers concerned nonetheless hadn’t compensated the victims or their households, nor taken motion to enhance the office infrastructure.

What are we, at Rock Content material, doing to not fall into coloration washing?

Variety, Fairness and Inclusion (DEI) have at all times been a part of Rock Content material’s values since 2013, after we had been based. In 2019, we formally structured our Social Affect and Variety, Fairness and Inclusion areas.

At Rock Content material, we deal with the individuality of every particular person with due equity and respect, we pay attention rigorously to all voices, and we act to remodel realities past our workers and customers. 

For us, social affect means sharing information to underrepresented teams which are in social and financial weak positions — with give attention to gender, race, disabilities and affective-sexual orientation, amongst others. It’s potential by means of the promotion of training, enabling inclusion available in the market, and guaranteeing fairness within the enterprise. With these initiatives, we promote extra alternatives for employability and likewise socioeconomic progress.

In 2021, Rock Content material impacted 20,000 individuals by donating Rock College scholarships to underrepresented teams. In the present day, 52.8% of Rock Content material’s crew consists of girls, and 49% of management positions are held by girls.

In the identical yr Rock Content material took one other main step in the direction of accelerating social change. By way of Pledge 1%, Rock Content material dedicated to donate 1% of it’s fairness to training and employability initiatives and tasks.

Keep away from coloration washing

So, with all Rock Content material’s information about methods to actually promote social change, listed here are some practices we will share so that you can keep away from falling into coloration washing:

  • Be an ally day-after-day. It’s okay if you wish to make one thing particular for these dates, however don’t neglect to indicate dedication for all twelve months of the yr.   
  • Help training and alternatives for all. Exhibiting solidarity by means of fundraising can also be a plus.  
  • Give attention to really giving house to these minorities. Create alternatives for them to develop inside the corporate and enhance their careers.  
  • Be coherent between your public picture and your inside processes. 

The lesson may be very easy: it’s nugatory adapting a flag if you don’t perceive the nuances of what you’re defending. If giving visibility to these minorities is a good suggestion, the change has to start out from the within. That’s how one can successfully help a motion and transcend what’s “stylish”.

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