A new partnership between The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Walmart Stores was announced yesterday, promising to advance diversity among the retail giant’s associate, supplier and customer bases.

“We are honoured to have Wal-Mart’s support of the NGLCC. Our partnership will not only provide more opportunities for the NGLCC, but the business community as a whole,” said NGLCC co- founder and President Justin Nelson. “We are pleased with this addition to our organisation and to our council.”

As part of Wal-Mart’s involvement with NGLCC, Dee Breazeale, vice president of divisional merchandise, SAM’S CLUB Jewellery, will serve on the organisation’s Corporate Advisory Council (CAC).

The CAC is composed of NGLCC corporate partners whose mission is to discuss issues upon which members of the NGLCC and CAC work together to educate Corporate America and the public on the economic benefits of providing a diverse workplace and creating mutually beneficial relationships with the LGBT and LGBT-friendly business community.

In addition, Wal-Mart will assist the NGLCC in developing, expanding and promoting corporate diversity business development and procurement opportunities by sponsoring some of its programmes including two of the organisation’s conferences.

Last month, NGLCC recognised the company as the newest corporate member of the chamber at the NGLCC’s International Business and Leadership Conference in Montreal.

Not everyone, though, is as excited about the partnership.

Jeremy Bishop, program director of Pride at Work, slammed the NGLCC in a phone interview with PageOneQ.

“[NGLCC's] mission statement says it is committed ‘to forming a broad-based coalition of LGBT owned and friendly businesses,’” he said. “We’re not exactly sure how Wal-Mart fits into the LGBT friendly business category. In fact, we’re not sure how Wal-Mart fits into anything worker friendly.”

Earlier this month, Walmart came under fire by labour unions and other anti-Walmart groups demanding that the retailer increase its employee wages and health benefits packages.

According to employee advocacy Website WakeUpWalmart.com, over 54 percent of Walmart’s employees do not have health coverage through the company.

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