Beyond Pride Month rainbow-washing: How to meaningfully support LGBTQ+ employees

Man wearing Rainbowhouse pride t shirt

4 mins, 37 secs read time

To say that we are living in a time of economic uncertainty would be an understatement. But, most companies will agree that satisfied and happy employees make the difference to a thriving and profitable business – even in such uncertain times. In fact, the most innovative and successful companies today not only put people first, but also ensure that their employees represent diverse backgrounds, identities and preferences.

During Pride month, many companies choose to signal support to their LGBTQ+ employees and the broader Pride community by adapting their brand positioning. However, it’s not uncommon for some companies to get accused of “rainbow-washing” if those efforts only last through the month of June each year.

At Greenhouse, we believe that supporting underrepresented groups is a year-round imperative. Here’s how your company can meaningfully support your employees during Pride month and throughout the year.

Show public support

One of the most obvious ways to be a vocal advocate is to show your support for your LGBTQ+ employees and the entire queer community in a public setting – from changing your logo to making public statements about your support. In these ways, you’re making it clear that your organization supports and embraces this community with your company values and mission. But support shouldn’t stop there.

Put your money where your mouth is

Don’t just talk about it, be about it. A great way to show continued public support well beyond Pride month is by dedicating time and resources to LGBTQ+ rights organizations. For example, Greenhouse has included initiatives such as donating 100% of proceeds of Pride month T-shirt sales to organizations like The Trevor Project or the Ali Forney Center. Your company can also make charitable donations each year and or offer employee match to underserved communities where LGBTQ+ youth might be struggling to find support, especially youth that identifies as a part of the BIPOC community.

Advocacy can speak volumes when it comes to protecting your employees and defining who your company is. When you make an active effort to financially support or steer away from certain organizations, you’re taking part in brand positioning. Not only do these actions tell employees and your target audience who you are, but they will help you to stand out from your competition.

Provide resources

In addition to sharing your public support for your LGBTQ+ employees and beyond, make sure you’re providing them with personal resources from within. An employee resource group (ERG) is often an effective way to provide that kind of necessary support.

Create an ERG

At Greenhouse, our ERGs are called “Arbors” – referencing the trees that purify their environment by producing oxygen.The Arbor for LGBTQ+ employees at Greenhouse is called Rainbowhouse. Most importantly, our ERGs are all supported by funding as well as official Greenhouse executive sponsors who are allies who advocate for us and champion inclusion.

Cultivate inclusion and belonging

Unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ employees face harassment and discrimination at work. Establish a workplace environment where your LGBTQ+ employees feel safe. Discrimination, in any form, shouldn’t be tolerated.

Also consider working with a local therapist and encouraging your employees to seek out support with their mental health, even if it’s only to maintain their mental well-being.

Host impactful events

Pride events are a great way to educate those not in the community. Whether you set up training sessions or go for something more casual and fun, everyone needs to be informed and included.

Here are some Pride month events we’re hosting at Greenhouse that you can use as thought starters:

  • Roundtable with queer comedian, author, podcaster, and singer Lane Moore
  • Discussion on queer identity with Paul Saiedi, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Uber
  • Interactive Drag Queen makeup demo by Greenhouse Customer Success Manager Maxwell DeYoung, better known as Bow Dega
  • Informal Pride kickoff party hosted by employees
  • Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride Parade

Let your employees know their value

In a time of increasing economic uncertainty, one of the common challenges that businesses face is staying relevant and competitive while also capitalizing on business trends. Pride is not some kind of fleeting trend or something you should “jump on” for marketing purposes. Companies must commit to change year-round in order to have a meaningful impact.

If you are not sure where to start, the best place is from within. Make sure your LGBTQ+ employees know their worth within your company. Choose to become a people-first company by recognizing that your employees are the bread and butter of your business. After all, your employees create your culture – and if they’re happy with their work environment, you’ll benefit your business by:

  • Improving loyalty and employee retention
  • Boosting productivity
  • Reducing costs associated with turnover and hiring
  • Developing highly skilled employees

Talk to your LGBTQ+ employees and ask them what you can do to create a company culture that meets their needs. Sometimes, something as simple as listening and starting a dialogue can make a big difference.

Pride month happens every year, and you should do your best to support and celebrate it – as well as your LGBTQ+ employees, all year-round. But, don’t fall into the trap of rainbow-washing as a marketing tool. Do what you can to support your employees year-round and your company culture will improve as a result.

Learn how to become a people-first company with Greenhouse’s new podcast: People-first.

Listen now

Diego Mancilla is a Brand Designer at Greenhouse where he collaborates with various teams to support the Greenhouse brand in the US and EMEA markets. Prior to joining Greenhouse, Diego worked with various non-profit and enterprise customers in the Pacific Northwest. Outside of work, he’s a traveler who explores paths outside the trails, enjoys being a runner, an artist and he’s always on the go for the next country to venture into. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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