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'Pinkwashing' companies barred from Pride parade

Corporate sponsors must support LGBTQ+ inclusion all year round to participate in the Pride in London parade

Companies that want to participate in the 2024 Pride parade in London must now sign up to a year-round LGBTQ+ inclusion programme.

The move by parade organisers Pride in London is designed to tackle ‘pinkwashing’, or ‘rainbow washing’, when brands profit off their claims of LGBTQ+ allyship, but act differently in practice.

Businesses will now have to join the ‘Pride in the City’ programme, which includes LGBTQ+ inclusion training on topics such as transgender and non-binary inclusion in the workplace. 

Participants will also have access to events that connect LGBTQ+ employees and allies with queer community groups, networking opportunities to empower and professionally advance LGBTQ+ employees, and employee resource groups.

Pride in London offers a subsidised joining fee for small and medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than £1 million, to promote accessibility for organisations of all sizes.

Read more: A third of UK employees feel LGBT+ support stops at Pride

Dee Llewellyn, director of partnerships and growth at Pride in London, told HR magazine: “The initiative was prompted by the community's reaction to corporate pinkwashing. 

“We listened to community feedback regarding corporate organisations marching in our parade and this sparked a conversation internally about what more we could do to ensure the corporates marching in our parade are not pinkwashing.”

Llewellyn said the programme will ensure sponsoring the Pride parade is not a token gesture.

“It’s about time that we set the bar higher for businesses marching at Pride in London. We want to be collaborating closely with them to make meaningful progress on LGBTQ+ inclusion in their workplaces all year, not just on the day of the parade.  

“It is not enough for brands just to change their logos for a month and do a pride campaign in June then forget about our community both internally and externally for the rest of the year.”

The closing date for applications to Pride in the City and, by extension, corporate entries into the parade, is 29 February 2024. 

Read more: Three quarters of LGBT+ women fear coming out at work

LGBTQ+ inclusion should be centred around people rather than brands, according to Woosh Raza, executive director of people, culture and inclusion at The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

He told HR magazine: "I really welcome the decision made by Pride in London, and urge employers to consider the impact of ‘pinkwashing’ when fostering LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace.

"LGBT+ inclusion should not be centred around brand, but around people from the LGBT+ community. Employers should be reviewing their use of inclusive language, speaking out in support of LGBT+ issues where possible, particularly the trans community, and addressing areas of discrimination robustly to really move the dial and avoid the often colourful acts of performative allyship like changing your logo during pride month."