Metro Weekly

Tobacco giant Altria Group joins pro-LGBTQ “Virginia Competes” coalition

Richmond-based company becomes 16th to join coalition pledging to support LGBTQ workplace protections

Photo: Altria Group, via Facebook.

The Richmond-based tobacco giant Altria Group has joined Equality Virginia’s “Virginia Competes” program, which recognizes businesses dedicated to promoting LGBTQ fairness in the workplace.

Altria’s addition brings the total number of companies that make up the Virginia Competes coalition to 16.

Other coalition members include Capital One, CarMax, Dominion Energy, Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, Nestlé, and defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

Companies that join Virginia Competes sign a pledge agreeing not to discriminate against employees, customers, or visitors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

All of the companies in the coalition have LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, and most extend LGBTQ-inclusive benefits to their employees.

“Equality Virginia welcomes Altria as the 16th member of Virginia Competes,” James Parrish, the executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a statement. “While it is one thing for a company to have practices and policies in place that protect employees and customers from discrimination, these businesses are leading the way by sending a stronger message and affirming those policies and making a public statement by joining Virginia Competes.

“We know there is a clear economic and business case for fair treatment of LGBT individuals,” Parrish added. “We look forward to continued growth of Virginia Competes.”

“Strong communities are built on a welcoming and inclusive culture,” Jennifer Hunter, the senior vice president of corporate citizenship at Altria Client Services. “Businesses, including ours, succeed when all employees feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. That’s why we’re signing the Virginia Competes statement. We’re proud to join the other Virginia companies who believe workplaces must be welcoming to LGBTQ people and that diversity and inclusion matters.”

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

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