Market trends

Behind the rainbow: How are companies positively impacting the LGBTQ+ community?

Nico Bryan

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June 16, 2021


Image showing rainbow paint
Image showing rainbow paint

The brightest and most colorful time of the year has arrived Pride Month.

While this month is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and all the rich brilliance and life it has breathed into the world, rainbow capitalism continues to fight for the spotlight in the larger queer narrative. 

2021 is shaping up to be the deadliest year on record for the trans community, with 23 people already confirmed dead, surpassing the number of murders reported by the HRC at this point in 2020. As the endless news cycle of violence towards these communities plays out, eyes and ears have become sharper. Every year, the representation of queerness in mass marketing grows stronger and more vivid, but are companies putting their dollars where their mouths are or are they using their rainbow logo as a trojan horse for monetary gain? 

Rainbow capitalism, explained

Rainbow capitalism refers to the behavior of brands during Pride month, as many attempt to appeal to the LGBTQ+ communities in order to turn a profit. From rainbow Micky Mouse ears to updating a LinkedIn profile photo to a colorfully painted logo, these companies use promotions and advertisements to appeal to queer folks’ emotions and monetize LGBTQ+ liberation.

In the past five years, queerness has become more normalized (thank you Gen Z TikTok) and is more routinely represented in media. But despite the increased physical representation, many are left wondering where the proof is showing that companies are actively bettering their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to amplify these communities.

One year later: what do companies have to show?

Last year, in the midst of a modern civil rights movement happening in a historically violent month, we tracked trends in real-time across entire markets, industries, and watchlists, finding commentary highlights that showcased how companies were commenting on their LGBTQ+ employees. 

Corporate emphasis on the subject was rampant last year, with varying levels of support across all messaging. Last year’s efforts may have been a result of a lack of preparation, leaving companies to scramble in their corporate response. But as the fanned flames simmered down, how have companies followed up on their sentiments? Is real, actionable change happening behind their prominently displayed rainbow branding?

We checked in on a number of companies that recently updated their social accounts with a freshly designed Pride logo to see whether they’re propelling queer communities forward. We also looked to see whether these companies’ initiatives were mentioned elsewhere to identify whether the initiatives led to any material change.

Uber 

Uber Technologies, Inc | 2021 Form-10K | AlphaSense Transcript

We celebrate differences, and we work hard to ensure that people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome and valued. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build. 

We believe that when employees feel empowered to succeed in a work environment that celebrates, supports, and invests in diversity, progress follows.

We encourage employees who believe they, or any other employee, have been subjected to discrimination to notify their manager, Uber’s People Team or the Integrity Helpline.

Our Board of Directors recognizes the strategic importance of these issues and incorporated workforce diversity performance metrics into the compensation packages of our most senior executives in 2019 and 2020, in furtherance of our company-wide One Uber objective.

For more information regarding our Diversity and Inclusion efforts, please see our 2020 People and Culture Report and our 2020 ESG Report.

Uber Technologies, Inc | 2020 People and Culture Report | AlphaSense Transcript

Pride at Uber provided strategic counsel to the company on inclusive recruiting for LGBTQIA+ candidates in Brazil—particularly focused on trans inclusivity. As a result, 19 trans employees were hired in Brazil this year. We also increased support for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Brazil looking for driving and delivery opportunities by launching the Opportunities in All Colors program with 250+ initial participants and partners; led the development and pilot of the “I was discriminated against” feature in Amsterdam, which was later rolled out in all EMEA countries; and launched Queerintined Gaymers, a tool for members to connect over gaming platforms.

Mastercard 

Business Wire | PR | AlphaSense Transcript

Mastercard is proud to announce the expansion of its True Name® card feature across the globe as Global Payments, a leading provider of payment technology and software solutions, implements this feature for its TSYS issuer customers. In addition, Mastercard partners across Europe and North America will enable cardholders to leverage their chosen name on their card offerings, including bunq and Monzo as the first issuers to implement in Europe and expanded deployment in North America through BM Technologies, Inc. (BMTX) and Republic Bank & Trust Company.

For many people around the world, the identity printed on their cards does not reflect who they truly are. True Name from Mastercard has been designed to change that, enabling people to display their preferred name on their card. As Mastercard seeks to achieve ubiquity for True Name across all card offerings, the collaboration with Global Payments ensures deeper market penetration.

American Banker | PR | AlphaSense Transcript

Mastercard also supplies marketing materials for issuers to use on their website to explain how True Name works.

“Part of inclusivity is thinking about how you go to market, and making sure people are treated with dignity and given the assurance of safety for transgender and nonbinary customers using their preferred name to pay,” Guerin said.

Although Mastercard didn’t disclose which issuers on the TSYS platform plan to adopt True Name, interest is high, according to Guerin.

“We are excited to partner with Mastercard’s initiative of fostering a more inclusive and diverse community by providing our issuers and their cardholders the opportunity to participate in the True Name program,Gaylon Jowers, senior executive vice president at Global Payments and president of TSYS Issuer Solutions, said in a press release.

American Airlines 

American Airlines Group Inc | Environmental, Social, and Governance Report | AlphaSense Transcript

American has been a longtime leader and ally in the struggle for equal rights and protections for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) team members, customers and community members. We offer medical coverage to same-sex domestic partners and provide benefits for gender reassignment coverage.

And in 2020, we joined an amicus brief supporting the application of nondiscrimination laws in the public sphere to protect the rights of same-sex couples, in Fulton vs. The City of Philadelphia.

Contify Aviation News | PR | AlphaSense Transcript

American Airlines has been recognized once again by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) with the highest possible rating in the prestigious 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). American was the only airline to achieve a perfect score when the CEI launched in 2002 and the only airline to receive a perfect score every year since the award’s inception.

Some companies that have traditionally positioned themselves as allies to LGBTQ+ communities, fell short on stating specific internal initiatives centered around queer workplace experiences. Revlon, in particular, used vague language that touched on buzzwords, like diversity, and implied that much of their commitment to diversity and inclusion was employee-driven.  

Revlon

Revlon | 2021 Form 10-K | AlphaSense Transcript

The Company is committed to its core values of Innovation, Inclusion, Collaboration & Accountability. We recognize the diversity of our employees, consumers, partners and community, and are committed to diversity and inclusion, as driven by our employee-led Diversity & Inclusion Council, as well as to the health, safety and well-being of our employees. The Company offers employees a wide array of company-paid benefits, which we believe are competitive in the industry. The company utilizes employee surveys to measure organizational health and employee experiences. The Company believes that its employee relations are positive.

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Nico Bryan

A brand storyteller and word-wrangler, Nico Bryan is the Content Marketing Manager at AlphaSense. Previously, she has developed and managed content for creative agencies, tech startups, and traditional in-house marketing departments.


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