ComplianceMnthlyRecap MH 5.16.22

Going Beyond Rainbows

By Bill Olson, Senior VP, Operations at United Benefit Advisors
  Aug 22, 2019 9:00:00 AM

As summer comes to an end, let’s take a closer look at the nuances of 2019’s pride month. This year, a global conversation around pride-washing or rainbow washing — the practice of businesses making nods to LGBTQIA+ inclusion through marketing efforts or rainbow-infused temporary products but not through actions and policies — also took place.


UBAStock_6_jrIt was amplified by 45,000 protesters marching down New York’s 6th Avenue to call out what’s called “rainbow capitalism.” Grit Daily highlights companies that opted to support Pride efforts in name but had never donated to LGBTQIA+ causes or were known for policies or practices that don’t support the community.

highlights companies that opted to support Pride efforts in name but had never donated to LGBTQIA+ causes or were known for policies or practices that don’t support the community.While those examples are at a consumer level, it’s important for companies to also think about whether their efforts at diversity and inclusion (from the moment of recruitment on through the employee lifecycle) are truly inclusive or just paying lip service to current social trends.


Research from Burning Glass Technologies points to more inclusive job postings that include terms like gender identity and sexual orientation as part of company statements around equal opportunity, including for companies not mandated to be equal opportunity employers. The data over the past five years show a concerted shift from just meeting compliance to more active support for diversity. In fact, in the last year, the prevalence of companies referencing sexual identity specifically outpaced equal opportunity employer in general over ten-fold in job listings. Further, more and more Americans (83 percent according to Bospar) believe workplace equality will be achieved and 60 percent report not having a preference about with whom they work.

Those important statistics continue to trend up, but for LGBTQIA+ recruits and employees, there’s still tremendous support to show and work to be done. Nearly one third report work harassment about sexuality, for example. Nearly half believe being "out" in the workplace could hurt their career according to a Glassdoor survey.

HR Technologist points out that more people from the Millennial generation and younger identify as LGBTQIA+. That means more and more potential recruits will be looking closely to see how companies talk and perform, and their loved ones and allies are looking too. For HR, ensuring you’re able to attract and retain top talent well into the future means continually assessing where your company’s culture, processes, leadership, and teams can improve. A brief in HR Dive offers that employees want to feel there is a place for them from the moment of hiring to using inclusive language to building a company culture that includes education, outreach and inclusive benefits. 

Unsure how to begin and concerned about making a misstep? Forming an advisory board to keep dialogue open with management is one suggestion from an industry veteran, who also recommends making sure there’s more than just policy, but instead policy backed up by action through outreach with the LGBTQIA+ community at large.

Get the data from surveys and interviews, even if those data tell you there are problems. Especially if they tell you there are problems! Use data from research into your hiring and culture to prioritize and improve. Build in training and education from the point of hire on, including using new tools and resources like virtual reality or micro-learning opportunities. Create resource groups for LGBTQIA+ groups (a great opportunity as well for other communities with shared characteristics or life experiences).

As Human Resource Executive reports, the Corporate Equality Index, produced by Human Rights Campaign, rates corporate policies and practices for LGBTQIA inclusion. Companies that score well practice what they preach, with inclusion infused through company culture and vision. Steps include creating gender-neutral bathrooms, inclusive benefits programs, nondiscrimination policies, as well as being thoughtful about suppliers and partners who share goals and values. One company with a perfect CEI score pointed to recruitment to on-boarding collaborations with HR was key. Rather than be discouraged by a lower score than they’d wanted, the company used their earlier reports as a playbook to improve.

Few employees expect a company to be perfect from the start. Efforts at intentional progress and continual improvement matter.

Read More:

Encouraging Signals: More Job Postings cite LGBTQ Diversity in Hiring

Building LGBTQ Inclusion at Work

Has Rainbow Capitalism Taken Over Pride?

Bospar PR: Even More Americans Don’t Care About Their Coworkers’ Sexuality and Gender Expression

How One Company Got Top Marks for Inclusion

Glassdoor LGBTQ Workplace Survey 2019

Pride Month 2019: 3 Ways to Create an Inclusive Workplace Culture for LGBTQIA Employees


Topics: HR Elements, diversity