It’s finally that time of the year! You know, when corporations finally seem to acknowledge the presence of the LGBTQ+ community. The next thing you know, your social media is flooded with loud exclamations of #Pride and all you see for the next three days are hues of the rainbow.
On the first of this month, social media managers trembling with the fear of missing out—marketing opportunity! Following which they hastily call up their graphic designers to present their cherry on top of the large rainbow cake, their rainbow icons.
Keeping all sarcasm aside, showing support for a movement of this scale is a notable first step. But what comes after this? Have these organisations actually accepted and actively encouraged sexual diversity within their four walls? Has the broken system downgraded the movement to a mere marketing tactic?
The reality is, these corporations may play an essential role in increasing the visibility of an issue and encourage discourse and acceptance. Seeing rainbow-coloured sandwiches and Starbucks’ drinks may even make a person feel included and accepted. But the reality is, the absence of other, more important systems that promote the economic and social inclusion of marginalised communities has a far more alienating effect than the “acceptance” they feel from these tokenistic gestures. And the truth is, most companies make use of such exploitative sales tactics without actually enabling LGBTQ+ representation within their own offices. If I were to ask you, right this second, how many multinational corporations have CEOs belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, how would you answer?
In addition, practices of Pink Capitalism are considered highly discriminatory by many who are a part of the community. An example is the use of the “LGBTQ+ friendly” tag by some bars and clubs to attract business from the queer community. While these tags work out well when the company needs more business, on crowded days these bars and clubs once again go back to their highly heteronormative and discriminatory “Straight Couples Only” policies.
Financially speaking, studies have shown a positive impact of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies on the financial health of companies. These companies tend to do better than ones who do not adopt such practises. Moreover, employees express greater job satisfaction at companies wherein inclusive policies are in place. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte in 2017, 80% of respondents consider inclusivity as an important factor when choosing an employer and 72% said that they would leave an organisation for one which they thought was more inclusive. Additionally, one study found that company stock performance increased by 6.5% compared to the industry when the company put more inclusive policies in place. Such data proves that social inclusivity is a far more profitable option than pink capitalism, especially in the long run. Further proving this claim, a study conducted by an Economics Professor at The University of Massachusetts Amherst revealed that India loses 1.4% of its national product annually because of discriminatory practises in the workspace.
In conclusion, I would like to say that being an ally to the community is not only about rainbow icons and introduction of pride sections in stores. Businesses must show their support for the movement all-year-round, and not just during the month where it is most “in trend”. LGBTQ+ representation should be emphasised within companies as well, not just because of the increased profitability, but to achieve true equality in our society. MNCs have a very high influence on a large number of people, and they should use their influence for the betterment of these marginalised groups, instead of further exploiting them.