As workforces look to become more inclusive, companies are being forced to learn about things like how to do allyship right year-round, not just when Pride Month rolls around.
There’s more to it than just slapping a rainbow flag on a logo once a year, being an ally requires a commitment to equality by supporting, uplifting, creating opportunities and safe spaces, and championing the work of members of the LGBTQ+ community in workspaces.
This is an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to celebrate progress, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has stopped being a political event rooted in protests and riots. Pride Month is commemoration, celebration, and reminder of those still struggling. It should also be an opportunity to create platforms and amplify the voices of those who are fighting for equality and helping educate others. To support LGBTQ+ rights, sponsor queer-friendly initiatives and make sure your money is going to companies that have learned how to do allyship right year-round instead of just practicing rainbow capitalism.
What is Rainbow Capitalism?
According to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the LGBTQ+ community in the United States holds an estimated buying power of $917 billion annually. It’s not surprising that many companies want a piece of it, and many have released Pride special editions of whatever it is they are selling every year. However, not all these companies are 100% behind the cause and performative rainbow campaigns looking to appeal to LGBTQ+ spenders flood in every year.
Rainbow capitalism refers to the way brands and companies look to profit from the LGBTQ+ community through surface-level support, painting everything rainbow come June while also donating money to politicians supporting anti-gay laws. Or failing to hire, promote and empower queer talent within their ranks. Year-round allyship requires more than annual multi-colored logos. Sadly, all the rainbow euphoria tends to fade by the end of the month, which has more to do with money than Pride.
How to Do Allyship Right Year-Round
Still, representation is incredibly important and there are companies and brands that have learned or are learning how to do allyship right year-round. Not seeing Pride for its marketing opportunities, but as a time to provide an invaluable platform and use their reach to foster equity and inclusivity, is a good start. With many brands making big donations or partnering with organizations, creators and charities supporting LGBTQ+ rights.
However, we need companies and leaders that will embrace this momentum not just during Pride month, but year-round. Companies that will make sure they are fostering and investing in LGBTQ+ talent, creating safe workspaces and maintaining those bonds with charities and organizations beyond the summer of rainbows. That are committed to cultural transformation and making sure everyone is being heard and represented, including members of the community. In addition to a high rating in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees), some companies have created LGBTQ+ resource groups and anti-discrimination specific workplace policies.
5 Companies Doing Allyship Right Year-Round
1Netflix is among 2021’s Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). Some of the streaming giant’s inclusive benefits include support for employees looking to have a family (regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or marital status) and offers comprehensive care to transgender and nonbinary employees in the U.S. In addition, they foster a culture of allyship and empathy through workshops for all employees on topics like privilege and intersectionality.
2Microsoft has a proud history supporting their LGBTQ+ employees, including sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies since 1989 and achieving a perfect CEI rating for the past 16 years. The company donates to organizations that support the LGBTQ+ communities and understands the many different conversations and needs that fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. The Global LGBTQI+ Employees and Allies at Microsoft (GLEAM) employee resource group promotes education within the company, provides support and networking opportunities and a platform to increase visibility as well as support for their employees and activists.
3Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most inclusive brands and they’re determined to make their commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality reflect in their workplace culture, their business partnerships, and the policies they get behind – like standing against anti-LGBTQ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation in several states. The company has had an active LGBTQA Business Resource Group (BRG) for almost 15 years and has offered transgender-inclusive health insurance since 2011. It’s also behind the “Next Generation LGBTQ Leaders’ Initiative”, a program designed to support young LGBTQ leaders.
4IBM has a history of fighting and supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Sexual orientation has been in their non-discrimination policy since 1984 and “gender identity or expression” was added in 2002, making it the largest corporation to do so at the time. Through their partnership with SAP and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, IBM developed the #workingpositively campaign in Germany, which invites employers to become role models by visibly supporting employees living with HIV and end the stigmatization and discrimination they still face in the workplace.
5Paypal has had a perfect CEI rating since they became an independent company in 2015. The longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality is committed to creating real change, and has signed HRC’s Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation and the Texas Competes Open Business Letter. The company also supports LGTBQ+ employees being their authentic selves, offering gender affirmation benefits to trans employees, counseling and different kinds of support for employees looking to start a family. In their own words: “Our differences make the world better. Not just once a year, but every day.”