Rainbow capitalism sounds fun doesn’t it, almost redeems the word capitalism and all that it stands, if only that was true.
What is rainbow capitalism you ask? It is a market strategy used by companies to capitalise on the LBGTQ+ community and its allies.
Eve Kerton, the co-founder of Certified Proud, said: “it is done through marketing strategies, rainbow products, rainbow versions of their best sellers, and special Pride events.”
Certified Pride is an organisation dedicated to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ members, allowing them to live freely without discrimination.
“In terms of companies that do it, it is far more obvious during Pride month,” said Kerton.
“Companies release one-off rainbow versions of their coffees/t-shirts/cocktails or hang the rainbow flag for that one week annually.”
I know what you’re thinking, endorsing the LGBTQ+ community and Pride that is a positive impact, right?
It is positive, however only when the company is actively supporting the movement and not just exploiting the movement for the facade of inclusivity.
“In one way, it is negative,” said Kerton.
“They are profiting from an event that was initially a protest, a protest in which people had to march for their human rights, and a protest in which LGBTQ+ people were visible for the first time.”
“In Ireland, the first Pride march was held after the murder of Declan Flynn due to a homophobic assault in Fairview Park. It is important to remember why we needed Pride in the first place,” added Kerton
Urban Outfitters for instance is a company that merits itself for representation in its campaigns and progressive principles, however, is also guilty of ‘pink washing’ and selling a transphobic greeting card.
“Pink washing” is a term now commonly used when companies or organisations market themselves as gay-positive to gain popularity while ignoring current and ongoing LGBTQ+ issues.
However, that being said this is not the case for all companies.
“While companies are capitalising, many are now feeling the pressure to give back to the community, whether it is through sales of their Rainbow specials or a donation,” said Kerton
“Corporate Pride fundraisers raise huge amounts for charities every year.”
Google is an example of a company that actively supports the LGBT+ community, in 2016 they launched the campaign #prideforeveryone campaign.
The campaign was a 360 degree immersive experience of pride for those who may not have that opportunity to experience the festival.
“If they are solely advertising a rainbow milkshake without any in-house training, fundraising or support in place for their staff, I feel it is quite shallow and base,” said Kerton
“If an active effort is made to change experiences for their staff and customers while raising vital funds, I think it is ultimately a positive!”