As social justice issues reached an inflection point in 2020, Altria launched a Race & Equity Initiative across our companies and publicly committed to address systemic racism faced by Black Americans and advance social and economic equity.

Altria and its companies have a proud heritage of supporting racial and economic equity, dating back to the 1930s when Philip Morris USA integrated its labor force at its manufacturing center in Richmond, Virginia, and later became the first tobacco company to hire Black salesmen. In the 1950s, the White Citizens' Council in the South called for a boycott of Philip Morris USA products because of the company’s support of equal employment and civil rights policies, cutting sales in half, but Philip Morris USA stood firm.

Our Race & Equity Focus

To discover more about our race and equity activities, read our 2020 year-in-review.

In 2020, Altria committed to invest in organizations addressing criminal justice reform – a complex range of issues related to policing, lawyers, courts and corrections. Criminal justice reform is critically important in addressing systemic racism – an area that directly affects employees' and community members' daily lives. For example, in October 2020, Altria provided a significant contribution to the National Urban League for its Equitable Justice & Democracy Initiative, which focuses on reforming the criminal justice system and maximizing civic engagement, democracy, and voting. Altria and Philip Morris USA have a 30+ year relationship with the National Urban League, and we are proud to step up our investment at a time when their services are in critical demand.

In 2020, we also created a civic action platform to support our employees' voices in social justice policy and election participation. During the 2020 Virginia General Assembly special session on criminal justice reform, many of our employees used this platform to share their opinions directly with their state senators and delegates. We also partnered with our employee resource groups to create a series of videos encouraging all of our employees to participate in the 2020 elections. We are continuing to offer employees ongoing opportunities to learn more about important civic issues, including criminal justice reform, from our elected officials and through opt-in civic learning content provided by the company and its employee resource groups.

As part of this work, our CEO Billy Gifford shared Altria's perspective with the Governor of Virginia and other elected officials on criminal justice reform, calling for all Virginians to work together to make progress on the important and long-overdue societal change that is required. 

To that end, we also publicly supported the responsible removal of confederate statues in our hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

Further, we are investing in organizations helping Black and other diverse business owners recover, grow and thrive in ways that also support local economic growth. In 2020, we have focused on the Richmond, Virginia region, and we believe this investment will help Altria with local supplier diversity efforts, strengthen diverse talent pipelines and workforce development in the region, contribute to community revitalization and advance economic equity in our community.

Billy Gifford Photo

Billy Gifford

Chief Executive Officer
Altria Group, Inc.

"While we know that we are not experts in criminal justice policy, we know that Altria has a role to play in helping our home state address systemic racism." 

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