News (USA)

ExxonMobil shareholders reject protections for LGBT employees

DALLAS, TX -– ExxonMobil shareholders on Wednesday voted against a resolution that would have prohibited workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The resolution, rejected by 80 percent of shareholders, would have specifically amended “ExxonMobil’s written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to substantially implement the policy.”

More than a decade ago, before Mobil Corp. was acquired by Exxon Corp., Mobil prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and offered health benefits to domestic partners of its employees.

Following its 1999 merger with Exxon, the non-discrimination policy was removed and the domestic partner benefits program was closed to new employees.

Since that time, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation along with other groups such as the New York City Pension Funds, has filed a resolution to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories in the company’s EEO policy. In 2011, the shareholder proposal garnered significant support, receiving votes representing over 500 million shares with a market value of more than $42.4 billion.

In March, ExxonMobil again asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow it to omit a resolution, sponsored by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its EEO policies from its shareholder meeting. The SEC rejected the request to block the shareholder resolution.

Last week, ExxonMobil’s hometown newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, weighed in on the controversy surrounding the company’s 13-year refusal to protect its LGBT employees, publishing an editorial calling on the company to heed the call and do the right thing.

“The shareholder resolution to add sexual orientation and gender identity to ExxonMobil’s EEO policy was a non-binding referendum and the company still has the chance to do the right thing,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

“As perhaps the largest corporation in the country, ExxonMobil has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen; sadly they have fallen far short. The company has resisted offering basic employment protections for their LGBT workers for years and it’s time they treat all of their employees like the valuable assets they are,” Solmonese said.

As of 2012, 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their EEO policy and 50 percent include gender identity.

On HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, ExxonMobil received a score of -25. In contrast, oil and gas companies such as Chevron, BP, Shell, and Spectra received scores of 85 or higher.

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