Corporate PR releases for Pride Month are landing in a very different cultural atmosphere in 2023.
While recent years have heard complaints about "rainbow washing" — essentially accusing companies of waving a flag to praise LGBTQ employees without any substantial changes in the way they do business — this year, companies are facing boycotts, backlashes and more.
The bulk of firms in plastics do not serve the public directly so they likely wouldn't face the same reactions as retailer Target or beermaker Budweiser, but that doesn't mean there are zero risks this year.
"From a corporate point of view, it was basically costless (in the past). They spend more money on doughnuts," Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan, told Eleanor Hawkins and Nathan Bomey of the website Axios. "Now it's becoming more costly," he added. "Now we're going to see who is actually committed to Pride causes."
There are real benefits to embracing Pride, companies say. Avon Lake, Ohio-based Avient Corp., marking its third year participating in Pride month, says telling the stories of its LGBTQ employees allows it to "build empathy and collaboration" in the workforce.
"The support that Pride receives from internal stakeholders allows associates to come together and advance equality in the workplace," Rochelle Richendollar, senior manager of financial systems and accounting at Avient, says in a post on the Avient website.