Metro Weekly

Three more companies join Virginia Competes coalition

Business coalition advocates on behalf of LGBTQ rights in the commonwealth

Photo: Fry1989, via Wikimedia.

Three more Virginia-based companies have joined a business coalition that advocates for expansion LGBTQ rights and protections in the commonwealth.

The coalition, known as Virginia Competes, was started by Equality Virginia to provide a unified voice for the business community and its support for LGBTQ protections in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The hope was that by engaging and enlisting business leaders throughout the commonwealth, the coalition would be able to influence pro-LGBTQ legislation that has stalled in the Republican-dominated General Assembly in recent years.

Virginia currently lacks statewide legislation protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

To join the coalition, companies must sign a statement stating that they believe that, in order for Virginia to be economically competitive, companies must foster workplaces that are diverse and LGBTQ-friendly.

The coalition already has seven members who joined in May when it was first launched: Capitol One, Carmax, Genworth, Hunton & Williams, LeClairRyan, Northrup Gruman, and Williams Mullen. As of last week, three more companies — Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, Mercer, and Snagajob — had signed the official statement as well.

“We are grateful to see Virginia Competes continue to grow with the addition of these organizations,” Vee Lamneck, deputy director of Equality Virginia, said in a statement. “By joining Virginia Competes these companies are the leading the way with their treatment of gay and transgender employees and customers. They recognize the need for a climate of inclusivity on the corporate campus, even if those rights do not legally extend to all citizens of the Commonwealth.

“These are leaders in the business community who know that treating people equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity is not only good for the welfare and morale of employees, it’s also good for business and good for Virginia,” added Lamneck.

“As an inclusive organization, we believe we are stronger in delivering our mission by engaging a wide spectrum of voices, perspectives, and experiences,” Charles Layman, the CEO of Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, said in a statement. “Goodwill’s core value of respect guides and inspires us to embrace the cultural beliefs, values, and abilities of individuals with whom we work and serve.”

“We firmly believe in the principles of equality, dignity, and inclusion, and seek to demonstrate this within our own workplace and in the communities we reflect and serve,” Rhys McKinnon, principal and global chair of Mercer’s LGBT+ and Allies business resource group, said in a statement. “Mercer is a proud and unwavering advocate for the equality of LGBT+ people at work and in the community.”

“At Snagajob, we support a diverse and inclusive customer base of both employers and workers, and we believe it’s vital to our success as a company, the success of our customers, and that of our communities,” Jim Monroe, chief people and customer officer at Snagajob, said. “We fully support each individual’s right to bring their authentic self to work in order to maximize their potential and live a more fulfilling life.”

For more information about the Virginia Competes program, visit virginiafairness.org/virginiacompetes.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com