New Survey Finds Continued Presence of Rainbow Capitalism and Little Employer Outreach around LGBTQ+ Issues
by Kristen Voorhees
by Kristen Voorhees
As part of Clyde Group’s observance of Pride Month last year, we commissioned a nationwide survey on public perception of LGBTQ+ representation and celebration. We continued that survey this year, using 2021 as a baseline to compare people’s perceptions of rainbow capitalism. In the face of an ever-changing job market, this year we also looked at companies’ communications about LGBTQ+ issues to their employees.
FINDING: Awareness of companies using Pride purely for profit has remained relatively steady since last year.
54% of people are aware of the concept of rainbow capitalism, even if under another term, compared to 50% in 2021. People aged 18-34 remain more aware than their older counterparts, as was the case last year.
WHY IT MATTERS:
Although overall awareness of rainbow capitalism has remained relatively steady, its presence is still a persistent issue. As we enter another Pride Month, we’ve already seen dozens of companies launch their rainbow product lines. The good news is that some companies are learning to steer clear of rainbow capitalism. For example, Target has gotten considerable positive coverage for partnering with queer-owned and women-founded apparel line TomboyX to include binders and packing underwear in their Pride collection. This is in stark contrast to the criticism the company has seen around Pride collections of years past, including their decision to continue selling an anti-trans book.
Stakeholder capitalism may drive some change, but communities are now more frequently directly holding companies accountable for their rainbow capitalism. Portland Pride recently rejected JPMorgan’s offer to sponsor their annual festival, citing the bank’s contributions to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. Advocacy at this level helps raise awareness of rainbow capitalism and the harm it causes the queer community.
FINDING: Most people do not hear from their employers about LGBTQ+ issues at all throughout the year.
When asked if their employers communicate to employees about these issues, an overwhelming 78% of people responded no. Only 5% of respondents aged 55 and older have employers who communicated about LGBTQ+ issues.
Interestingly, increasing age is correlated with less communication from employers. Only 5% of people aged 55 or older have heard anything from their employers about LGBTQ+ issues, compared to 18% of people aged 18-54. Still, a massive 73% of people aged 18-54 haven’t received any communication about LGBTQ+ issues from their employers.
WHY IT MATTERS:
With Gen Z being the generational group with the largest percentage identifying as LGBTQ+, it may be expected that more of their employers would communicate about issues most relevant to them. Plus, the increasing emphasis on workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion in recent years would foreseeably drive more of these discussions in the office. Nevertheless, over three quarters of young people still hear nothing from their bosses. In the face of the Great Resignation, as employees continue to hold companies to higher standards of work and culture, LGBTQ+ representation in the workplace could very well become a deciding factor for those looking to stay in or leave their positions. With an increasingly younger workforce in a red hot job market, companies may want to consider upping their internal and external support of the LGBTQ+ community.
While inauthentic efforts to appeal to the queer community purely for financial gain remain a consistent issue, the problem is amplified by the failure of those same companies to communicate with employees about LGBTQ+ issues throughout the year at all, authentic or not. Though stakeholder capitalism has (partially) driven social change in the private sector, these findings show we still have a long way to go toward reaching a world where companies put their money where their rainbow banner ads are on LGBTQ+ issues.
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