Updated: 11:40 a.m. CDT
DALLAS — Exxon Mobil shareholders on Wednesday defeated a resolution to explicitly ban discrimination against gays.
By a 4-to-1 ratio, shareholders defeated the resolution after the Exxon board had argued that the company already banned discrimination of any type and didn’t need to add language regarding gays.
A retirement fund for New York state employees proposed that Exxon ban bias based on sexual orientation. The group said the lack of specific protection for gays hurt the company’s ability to recruit employees from the widest pool of talent.
Last week, in the latest attempt to pressure the company into change, a gay-rights group called Freedom to Work teamed with a high-powered Washington law firm to file what they described as a groundbreaking discrimination complaint against Exxon in Illinois.
The complaint, filed with the state’s Department of Human Rights, says Exxon was sent two nearly identical resumes for a job opening at its office in Patoka, Ill.
According to the complaint, Exxon’s human resources office at its home base in Texas confirmed receipt of both applications, then made several efforts to contact the applicant with the lower grades to set up an interview. The applicant who indicated she was gay received no such follow-ups.
Exxon’s annual meeting used to draw dozens of protesters from human rights groups, but there was only a lone demonstrator outside as the meeting began Wednesday in an ornate symphony hall in Dallas.
Exxon Mobil Corp. is coming off its second-biggest profit ever, having earned $44.9 billion in 2012.