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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 31, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 22
Gays get no love from ExxonMobil
Section One
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Gays get no love from ExxonMobil

Oil giant scores minus-25 out of 100 on LGBT-friendliness

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

For the 14th year in a row, corporate giant ExxonMobil has refused to add specific language protecting its LGBT employees to its personnel policies.

At a shareholders' meeting on May 29, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli introduced a resolution calling for explicit protections from sexual orientation and gender identity. Like many pension funds, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which DiNapoli oversees, has investments in a number of major corporations, including ExxonMobil.

George Wong addressed the shareholders on behalf of New York, arguing that the company should appeal to the widest possible pool of potential employees. Failure to do that, he warned, would lead to reduced efficiency and loss of valuable LGBT employees. Most Fortune 500 companies do have inclusive nondiscrimination policies - including most other major oil companies, he added.

ExxonMobil management opposed the resolution on the grounds that its policies already prohibit 'all forms of discrimination' in all of its workplaces worldwide.

EQUALITY REJECTED
During the time reserved for discussion, no one else supported the nondiscrimination proposal, and only 19% of the company's shareholders voted to support it.

GetEQUAL, which staged a demonstration outside the shareholders meeting in Dallas, denounced the company's decision in a statement sent out the next day.

'ExxonMobil continues to dig in its heels to prove that it is one of the most ardent proponents of LGBT discrimination in the country,' the group said. 'While ExxonMobil rakes in billions of dollars in federal contracts each year - paid for with taxpayer money - it's stunning that the company is so actively and blatantly out of step with the three-quarters of the American public who support LGBT workplace protections.'

Noting that 'ExxonMobil is one of the largest federal contractors in the country, having been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts since 2000,' GetEQUAL called on President Obama to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to adopt explicit protections for their LGBT employees.

BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
Despite ExxonMobil's claims that they already prohibit all discrimination, the company has a dismal record on LGBT issues, even when compared to other big oil companies.

For example, Shell Oil had a score of 95 out of a possible 100 on HRC's Corporate Equality Index (CEI); British Petroleum (BP) had a score of 90; and Conoco Phillips had a score of 55, because they protect sexual orientation but not gender identity.

On the same 100-point scale, ExxonMobil had a score of minus-25.

According to the Dallas Voice, when Exxon acquired Mobil Oil in 1999, it eliminated the LGBT protections Mobil, like many other oil companies, had in place. Only one other company in the top 20 Fortune-rated companies scored below a 55 on the CEI scale.

FAILING THE RESUME TEST
Even before the shareholders' meeting, Freedom to Work, an LGBT rights organization that focuses on employment issues, filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights alleging that ExxonMobil engages in discriminatory hiring practices.

Freedom to Work said that on December 4 last year it submitted fake resumes for two individuals hoping to land an administrative assistant position at Exxon's Patoka, Illinois, office.

One fictional applicant, named 'Caland,' listed her experience as secretary for a feminist group, while the other, named 'Priston,' said she had been the treasurer for the local chapter of the LGBT group Victory Fund. Only 'Caland' got a request for a follow-up interview and the complaint filed with the Human Rights department alleges that is because 'Priston' was connected with an LGBT group.

Other progressive proposals voted down by ExxonMobil shareholders included a requirement that the company prepare a formal report on the risks of natural gas development (30% support); set greenhouse-gas emissions goals (27%); disclose all its lobbying activities and costs (25%); limit the number of boards Exxon directors can serve on (6%); and prohibit contributions to influence an election (6%).

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