QUEER PRODUCTS SHOULD MEAN QUEER PROFITS.
An introductory guide to participating in the business of pride in a helpful and ethical way
RaINbow Capitalism Is a term for the targeted inclusion of LGBT+ themes and imagery into products and marketing in order to make profit.
Thousands of brands in the US participate in this every year during Pride Month in June. Some of these brands are found committing anti-LGBT actions at other times of year, using Pride for profit without actually supporting the community.1
But others do want to support the LGBT+ community. How can a business help LGBT+ people? How can a business make both money and change?
THE LGBT+ WAGE GAP While businesses make money off of their culture, many LGBT+ people are struggling to get by.2 Studies have estimated the earnings gap between LGBT and non-LGBT individuals:
THE average Lesbian or bisexual woman makes 12% LEss than the average heterosexual woman, and the average gay or bisexual man makes 10-32% Less than the average heterosexual man.3 4
And LGBT+ people of color make less than white LGBT+ people.2
Studies have also found that transgender individuals have one of the biggest financial gaps, reporting a rate of poverty nearly 4x that of the general population.3
LOAN DISCRIMINATION While new rulings aim to end it5, LGBT+ people have historically had a more difficult time getting loans than their non-LGBT+ counterparts:
same-sex borrowers are 73% more likely to be denied when applying for a mortgAge loan, and pay 0.2-2% HIGHER interest rates ON AVERAGE WHEN APPROVED.6
Among other things, this means that small, queerowned businesses might have a harder time getting started than non-queer-owned ones.7
Rainbow capitalism's focus on awareness and acceptance can be helpful, but LGBT+ people and businesses have real struggles like these and could benefit from more immediate help.
If your business wishes to market itself to the LGBT+ community, or be an ally to any community, it is important to continue to educate yourself on the issues that it faces.
The culture that you might reference in your marketing was likely developed as a reaction to marginalization, to create safe spaces where there were none.8
If you are profiting off of this culture, it is important to be aware of where that profit is going. Are you helping the community, or are you just making money off of it? Are the ways you're helping resulting in change?
The following pages give 3 ideas on how to help.
1. Feature the products of queerowned businesses Instead of creating new products to market to LGBT+ audiences, consider partnering with a queer-owned business to feature their products, and direct majority of profits to them.
You can find many queer-owned businesses through online searches (for example, this list).
Do you need to create a new product, or are there queer-owned businesses already meeting this need?
2. INCLUDE QUEEROWNED BUSINESSES IN YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN If you are creating LGBT+ products, consider hiring as many LGBT+ suppliers as you can to create them.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce's Supplier Diversity Initiative offers certification to LGBT+ owned companies and connects them to other businesses seeking to diversify their supply chain. You can connect with this initiative here.
If you're profiting off of LGBT+ products, are any LGBT+ people profiting too?
3. DONATE MAJORITY OF PRIDE PROFITS TO LGBT+ ORGANIZATIONS While many businesses do donate portions of their Pride profits to queer organizations, most only donate a small fraction. Consider donating more. Even if your business makes less profit from the products themselves, it is likely that supporting LGBT+ causes will bring more profit in the long run.9
If your business is using Pride as a marketing tactic, why not donate all of the profits from queer-specific goods to queer non-profits?