By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com August 06 2013 7:31 PM ET
SPI Group, which owns the vodka brand Stolichnaya, has modified its employee nondiscrimination policy to include protections for sexual orientation.
John Aravosis, the editor of AMERICAblog, wrote an article this week that highlighted the addition of a paragraph to the “Employee welfare” portion of the Luxembourg-based company’s About page. The amendment reads:
“SPI Group is an equal opportunity employer. SPI Group does not and will not discriminate in employment or personnel practices on the basis of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, handicap, religion, national origin.”
Aravosis points out the amendment, while “laudable,” still fails to mention protections for transgender employees.
The paragraph appeared on the company's website after July 22, the date LGBT activists began a social media campaign to encourage the boycott of Stoli vodka. The boycott of Russian products followed the Eastern European nation’s adoption of a ban on so-called homosexual propaganda, the refusal to allow gay and lesbian international citizens to adopt orphaned Russian children, and a series of violent demonstrations against the country’s LGBT community in recent months.
Since the boycott, the CEO of SPI Group also released an open letter to the LGBT community on July 25 that declared it “firmly opposes such attitude and actions” committed by the Russian government and continues to be a “fervent supporter and friend” of the community, pointing to past endorsements of Pride events and LGBT organizations.
“We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia,” wrote Val Mendeleev, the CEO of SPI. “In the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.”