pinkwashing

A BP flyer found in London. Image uses photo from Marine Photobank.

We face an onslaught of unpleasant, greenwashing advertising from fossil fuel companies. Shell and their “We’ll keep the lights on when she’s grown up” billboard, featuring a photo of a child reading in bed complete with an oh-so-ironic polar bear toy on her bedside cabinet and a brief note about their investment in “mixed energy sources”. BP’s sickening, “We’re inspiring young people in our schools to think innovatively” nonsense campaign. And, of course, Southern Electric with their strange and downright confusing ghostly orangutan images. All of these seek draw our attention away from the horrors of fossil fuels to thoughts of sustainability, education and cute children.

But BP’s new campaign is taking these diversion techniques one step further with a pinkwash.  A new poster advertises their LGBT specific careers event with large (and environmentally green) text that reads, “I discovered a business that takes pride in all its employees”. This sickening advert is, once again, attempting to paint BP as a friendly, responsible company who do nice things like being “committed to diversity”. But this thin façade quickly crumbles to reveal a company dripping in environmental disaster.

BP’s reckless conduct led to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, named by Obama as “The worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”. It has caused untold destruction to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico as well as harm to human health, and this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the havoc BP are wreaking on this planet and its inhabitants.

As a queer person, I am disgusted that BP are attempting to pinkwash themselves in diversity to cover up for their atrocious actions. I hope that there will be plenty of people asking difficult questions and causing a fuss at the careers event, as well as the media backlash that they deserve for this outrageous move.

Sadly, this seems like precisely the awful excuse for praiseworthy behaviour that the disappointingly un-radical LGB(and maybe T) rights charity Stonewall will be quick to celebrate.

Naomi Wilkins is an activist for Fossil Free.