June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and support members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, many GenZers have conflicted feelings on the authenticity of brands’ allyship and advertising during Pride Month. In a study conducted by Reach3 Insights right after 2022 Pride Month, 466 GenZers were asked to give their opinions on brands’ efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community in June 2022. 43% of the Gen Z respondents stated that they noticed a significant improvement in brands’ advertising, with support going further than performative action, launching donation campaigns, and adding more inclusive products. The big box retailer, Target specifically expanded their merchandise collection to include options more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, such as chest binders. This stood out to GenZers because it showed that Target put inclusivity over corporate profits.
However, the Gen Z community still felt much more improvement was needed, with 36% of respondents saying that corporations were taking advantage of Pride Month to gain profit without genuinely wanting to support the LGBTQ+ community. GenZers accused companies of “rainbow-washing” during Pride Month and solely working for LGBTQ+ equality in that month rather than making year-round concrete efforts to promote diversity and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. One Hispanic, gay, Gen Z cis male stated: “I feel like it’s the same every year. Companies all hop on the bandwagon and change their profile pictures on social media and talk about how much they love the LGBT community. And then June is over and Chick-fil-A is back to funding anti-LGBT things.” For this generation, it is critical to see brands working for change through tangible efforts in hiring and workplace equality rather than just producing advertisements with LGBTQ+ models. Building trust between brands and consumers can be difficult, especially for LGBTQ+ consumers. According to the Cultural Inclusion Accelerator’s research, 86% of LGBTQ+ respondents feel that brands should take a public stance on DEI in their advertisements.
Furthermore, heading into this year’s Pride month, there has been a record-breaking number of over 470 bills targeting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically attacking transgender individuals. Brands must understand the politically charged landscape and be corporate allies for transgender people and drag queens without backing down. Brands are encouraged to go beyond surface-level performances and engage in front-line activities to support issues in the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledge the bills that challenge their rights, and support LGBTQ+ employees every day in the workplace. In doing so, we can work together to protect the rights of marginalized communities and commit to real change.