ExxonMobil endorses anti-gay discrimination, again
May 26th, 2010
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.