Equality Means Business: For Community Members

How do I join EMB?

JOIN ONLINE: Fill out and submit the online membership form here.


  • Print out the EMB membership form which includes a pledge guaranteeing that your LGBT customers and clients will not be denied service, nor will your employees be denied or restricted employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Send the completed form to us:
    Email: [email protected]
    Fax: 804-643-1554
    Mail: P.O. Box 17860, Richmond, VA 23226

What is Equality Means Business (EMB)?

Virginia is behind when it comes to laws that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. In fact, it’s still perfectly legal for someone to be fired, denied housing, or refused service simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. EMB is an opportunity for locally owned businesses to publicly state that they don’t discriminate against customers or employees who are gay or transgender. EMB members make a promise that their business is a safe and welcoming place for LGBT people to work and shop.

I don’t own a business, so why should I care about EMB?

Many of us frequently visit a favorite coffee shop, or always go to the same salon, or look forward to that special meal at the local diner – small businesses are all around us, and you probably have a relationship with many business owners in your community. By recognizing these connections and asking businesses in your area to join EMB, you can help to make your neighborhood more vibrant.  When your neighborhood is more inclusive, your community becomes more inclusive, which in turns helps to make Virginia a more welcoming place to visit, shop, and raise a family.

I’d like to shop at LGBT-friendly businesses in my area. How do I know which businesses belong to EMB?

The EMB online directory is a tool for you to use, which will help you to make well-informed decisions and allow you to intentionally support businesses that are welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

I want my community to have more EMB members. How do I get started?

  1. Choose some businesses that you want to approach. We recommend starting with businesses that are important to you – where do you like to shop, get your hair done, car fixed, or have brunch?
  2. Explain why Equality Means Business is important to you and remind them that this is a free opportunity. Use this guide to help!
  3. Provide them with a hard copy of the membership form or encourage them to complete the online membership form.

If business owners have questions regarding Equality Means Business,  invite them to visit www.virginiafairness.org or contact Equality Virginia at (804) 643-4816 or [email protected] You can also direct them to our FAQ page.