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ExxonMobil endorses anti-gay discrimination, again

Timothy Kincaid

May 26th, 2010

ExxonMobil really, really, doesn’t appreciate its gay employees or customers.

Before 1999, Mobil Corporation had a non-discrimination policy which included sexual orientation. They also provided benefits to domestic partners of employees. But that all changed on November 30, 1999 when Mobil merged with Exxon Corporation to become the world’s largest oil company.

Generally, merging companies adopt the more progressive and customer/employee friendly of corporate policies. But though Mobil had reported no problems with their non-discrimination policies nor any concern that employee benefits were cost prohibitive, the merged company did not choose to continue Mobil’s policies.

Instead, ExxonMobil removed “sexual orientation” from their non-discrimination list, earning the dubious distinction of being the only major corporation ever to reauthorize discrimination against gay people. And lest there be any confusion about their intent or attitude, they restricted partner benefits to those already in the policy, refusing to allow new employees to register their partners.

ExxonMobil claims that it doesn’t need to protect gay employees from discrimination because it bans discrimination against “everyone”. In fact, on their website they claim:

Any form of discrimination by or toward employees, contractors, suppliers, and customers in any ExxonMobil workplace is strictly prohibited. Our global, zero-tolerance policy applies to all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But that simply doesn’t ring true. And, in fact, their very next statement clarifies that this is nothing but nonsense and word games.

We provide all employees with a competitive package of benefits and programs, which varies based on the legal requirements and culture of countries. Benefit coverage for spouses is based on legally recognized spousal relationships in the individual countries where we operate. In the United States, we have adopted the definition of spouse used in federal law, which provides benefits to heterosexual couples. Employees in countries where national law recognizes same-sex relationships are provided spousal benefits under the ExxonMobil programs.

Ah. I see. In the US you “provide provide benefits to heterosexual couples based on legally recognized spousal relationships”, but you oppose “any form of discrimination”. Un-huh. Did you have Mat Staver write that up for you?

And the “we cover everyone” excuse does not seem to extend to other groups historically subject to employment discrimination. Their Standards of Business Conduct (which serve as their non-discrimination policies) state:

It is the policy of Exxon Mobil Corporation to provide equal employment opportunity in conformance with all applicable laws and regulations to individuals who are qualified to perform job requirements regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, citizenship status, age, physical or mental disability, veteran or other legally protected status.

But gay folk… well, they don’t need inclusive language. Sorry, but that just sounds like nastiness wrapped up in pretty shiny paper.

Now, it’s not like I’m picking out ExxonMobil for special criticism and ignoring other major corporation. Because most other major corporations do provide real and legitimate non-discrimination policies. All of the other major oil companies, along with 93% of Fortune 100 and 84% of Fortune 500 have not found any reason to tell their gay employees that they are not valued. And the vast majority also offer partner benefits.

But ExxonMobil is determined. Year after year the shareholders (mostly by management-controlled proxy) vote to deny dignity to gay employees. This year, the vote was 78% against equality.

Comments

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Lindoro Almaviva
May 26th, 2010 | LINK

Give us a list of brands that fall under the Exxon Mobile umbrella. If they are not going to support their gay employees, our dollars should not go to support them.

Timothy Kincaid
May 26th, 2010 | LINK

They have a large number of corporate products, but as far as I know, the only consumer brands are Exxon and Mobil

David Lemonnier
May 26th, 2010 | LINK

Another company with similar policies is GEICO. GEICO is the only major automobile insurance company that does not offer domestic partner benefit and scores 0 on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. Think about it the next time the gecko tries to get you to switch. We have to use our wallets to let these companies know what we think of their discriminatory policies.

Cole
May 26th, 2010 | LINK

Avoid all companies that discriminate against gay people. Check out HRC’s Corporate Equality Index as a guide.

John
September 12th, 2010 | LINK

I admire ExxonMobil for having the guts for recognizing what most Americans still consider the typical American “family” and not giving into pressure from GLBT groups. In fact, I purposely go out of my way to only purchase gas from Exxon or Mobil stations to show my support.

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