Communicating with pride: how to avoid pinkwashing

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By Florence de Kok

It’s July, which means that Amsterdam will soon host a rainbow of events to celebrate Queer & Pride Amsterdam. Countries around the world have gone before us, with many marking June as Pride Month. Amsterdam devotes two weeks of events to celebrate and support the LGBTIQA+ community, culminating in the unforgettable Canal Parade during the first weekend of August.

While Pride Amsterdam is iconic and joyful, it’s also a time to discuss the problem of pinkwashing.

Whether it’s greenwashing, whitewashing, bluewashing or sportswashing: ‘washing’ is everywhere. Behind the jargon lurks a troubling communication practice. Organisations are increasingly accused of misleading stakeholders about their efforts or commitments in a given area, sometimes to distract from bad practices, or simply to jump on a bandwagon of positive sentiment.

As we at Stampa champion substance over style, in any form of communication, we believe authenticity should be front and centre. With Amsterdam Pride around the corner, it’s a perfect time to assess some best practices to make sure you avoid pinkwashing.

Be transparent and truthful

Explain how your core values align with Pride in a way that’s true to your organisation’s reality, internally and externally. It won’t be convincing if your diversity or inclusion social media posts don’t match up with your employees’ lived experience in the workplace, or how consumers interact with you in the market.

  • Be honest about shortcomings to avoid confusion. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a journey, not a destination: being open about where you stand can create a sense of trust and unity with your audiences.
  • Make a plan or strategy for how you want to grow in DE&I and how you aim to get there.
Canal Pride Amsterdam
Pride festivities are a moment of celebration and, unfortunately, pinkwashing.  

Be consistent

Why only put the spotlight on the community for one month if you can recognise them all year round? Regular initiatives that show your ongoing commitment and contribution to DE&I are more meaningful than a one-off post.

  • Make a content and communication schedule aligned with your DE&I strategy.

Be involved and engaged

Create internal engagement and involvement about diversity and inclusivity with your employees, the local community or stakeholders.

  • Don’t say it, do it! Create an in-house community, led by employee ambassadors. Make space for allyship to thrive and build awareness around your policy and culture to bring Pride to life in real ways during the year.
  • Learn to learn: take moments to educate your employees on DE&I.
  • Keep the conversation going by responding to comments and questions in a tone of voice that’s authentic for your organisation.

Be visible and collaborative

Reach out. Ask your local LGBTIQA+ communities how you can support them. Try to collaborate and address their concerns via your media outlets. Small contributions can make a difference. 

  • Make tangible contributions
  • Join group conversations
  • Build relationships

Showing your true colours about Pride communications can lead to meaningful conversations, building trust and authenticity. Don’t just hand over a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Happy Pride, Amsterdam!

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