ExxonMobil Continues to Oppose Basic Protections
May 27, 2009
This is a follow-up to yesterday's post: "ExxonMobil Shareholders to Vote on Non-Discrimination" Today, shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) once again took a stand against the company's directors, with 39.3% voting in favor of a resolution to add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the company's equal employment opportunity policy. Last year's vote was 39.6%, meaning this year's vote decreased by 0.3% (likely representing normal changes in ownership of the stock). The proposal that won the most approval (at 40.3%) would allow shareholders to call special board meetings. What does it all mean? Two things:
- Exxon doesn't want to be inclusive. Former CEO Lee Raymond famously opposed this resolution, telling proponents to "go pass a federal law instead." Most companies won't spend resources conducting a vote among shareholders unless they disagree with the shareholder and can't resolve the issue before the annual meeting. Of the 13 items on this year's ballot, only the board's nomination for directors and ratification of independent auditors received an affirmative recommendation from the board.
- This issue isn't going away. The Securities and Exchange Commission allows resolutions to persist from year-to-year as long as the resolution gets at least 10% of shareholder votes. Hopefully, we'll have an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to turn to, first. But we continue to hope that Exxon will be the leader that Mobil once was by amending its EEO policy and, eventually, offering inclusive employment benefits.
In the meantime, there are plenty of alternatives to ExxonMobil when it comes to filling up the tank.