Equal Opportunity for LGBT Employees Could Make Its Way Back to ExxonMobil
March 23, 2012 by Paul Guequierre
After a 13-year-long fight by the LGBT community, fairness could be on its way back to ExxonMobil. Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected the oil company’s request to block a shareholder resolution to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the its equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy.
The struggle for equality by ExxonMobil’s LGBT employees goes back to 1999, and even longer for the employees of Exxon Corp. That year, Exxon Corp. acquired Mobil Corp. Prior to the merger, LGBT employees of Mobil were protected by a non-discrimination policy that covered sexual orientation and the company offered health benefits to domestic partners of its employees. Exxon’s employees weren’t as fortunate, and Mobil’s LGBT employees would soon see the clock rolled back on their rights. They’ve been fighting to get them back ever since.
Beginning in 1999, 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 and yesterday the SEC cleared a path to progress by rejecting the ExxonMobil’s request to block the resolution. The resolution was proposed by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and will be voted on by shareholders at the annual shareholders meeting on May 30.
ExxonMobil received a score of -25 On HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, while competitors Chevron, BP, Shell, and Spectra all received scores of 85 or higher. As of 2012, 85 % of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their EEO policy and 50% include gender identity.
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