ExxonMobil, the Leader in Backward LGBT Policies and Cultural Tone Deafness

Categories: Biz, News

It's almost tradition by now. Every year at Exxon's annual shareholder's meeting, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees state employees' retirement dollars, introduces a resolution calling for the company to ban discrimination against gay and transgendered employees. And every year, it gets voted down.

And there's nothing to suggest the outcome will be any different at this year's conclave, which is set for next week in Dallas.

Exxon's hesitance to embrace pro-LGBT reforms has made it an outlier in the corporate world. According to the Human Rights Campaign's 2013 Corporate Equality Index, large majorities of Fortune 500 companies have sexual orientation and gender identity protections written into their employment policies and offer domestic partner benefits. Of the nation's 20 largest companies, HRC gives most perfect 100s. Only Exxon came in with a negative score, earning a -25.

The company's treatment of gay employees is the subject of a complaint filed this week in Illinois by a gay-rights group called Freedom to Work, which alleges the company discriminates based on sexual orientation in violation of that state's law. The Associated Press describes the filing:

The complaint, filed with the state's Department of Human Rights, says Exxon was sent two nearly identical resumes for a job opening at its office in Patoka, Ill. The only substantive differences were that one of the fictional applicants was clearly depicted as a gay-rights activist, and had higher college and high-school grades than the other applicant.

According to the complaint, Exxon's human resources office at its home base in Texas confirmed receipt of both applications, then made several efforts to contact the applicant with the lower grades to set up an interview. The applicant who indicated she was gay received no such follow-ups.

An Exxon spokesman told the AP the company is reviewing the complaint but that the company's "global policies and processes prohibit all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in any company workplace, anywhere in the world. In fact, our policies go well beyond the law and prohibit any form of discrimination."

Cece Cox, who heads the Resource Center of Dallas, doesn't buy it. If Exxon were really serious about discrimination, they would write LGBT protections into their official policies. It's a step scores of companies have taken. Cox isn't sure why Exxon hasn't.

"To me and to everyone I've talked to in the movement and so many people in corporations, it's just a big puzzle," she said.

There are, however, some minor signs of progress. The Resource Center sent a letter to the company last summer asking for a meeting and offering help in implementing more gay-friendly policies. Exxon acquiesced. Cox and two Resource Center board members from the corporate world attended the meeting, which she describes as "professional."

"My sense of the meeting was they were open to what we had to say. ... I drew a conclusion they were contemplating looking at their [policies and] benefits," she said.

They may still be looking, but they haven't made any changes in the year since the meeting. Cox is confused and disappointed, but she remains optimistic. Exxon officials seemed legitimately concerned with the way its policies were affecting the company's public image.

One asked Cox and the Resource Center board members to describe their impression of the company. "All of our responses were consistent with, 'We would walk 10 miles in a blizzard when we ran out of gas to avoid going to an Exxon.'"

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I'm with curmudgeon...but I thought I was reading Fox News comments.


I feel like I'm reading comments from D Magazine. I thought the Observer reader was less... assholey? 


If they can deliver gas at a reasonable price (compared to their competitors), who cares who they hire?  They are an oil company not a LBGT company.  Don't like it?  Buy their stock and vote to change policies.  When it comes to business, most reasonable people don't care who you f*ck or how you f*ck them.  Only arrogant assholes think that we do.  We don't.  If you are an oil company, deliver gas at a reasonable price, have a few decent snacks at the stations, keep the bathrooms clean, and keep the rest to yourself.


Who puts grades on a resume anyway?

Maybe they looked at the lower grades and said "hey we can pay this person less"

Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis

It is an oil company ! They are backwards on a great many issues I imagine !


I stopped buying Exxon gasoline and Exxon anything years ago.  And I don't expect to do anything to help Exxon at anytime in the future.  The LGBT issue is a minor reason for my position on Exxon.  They are undoubtedly one of the worst if not the worst corporate citizen in the world.  I call on any person who wants to do the right thing to never buy anything that Exxon is known to profit from.

Brian Nesbitt
Brian Nesbitt

And this is why I haven't spent a dime with Exxon in many years.  And it's why I encourage my friends to follow my lead.

everlastingphelps topcommenter

It's the shareholders meeting.  You know who votes at the shareholders meeting?


You know who shareholders are?  People who buy shares in the company.  It's all publicly traded in the stock market.

If you really wanted to change the policies, you could always put your money where your mouth is, buy stock, and vote against it.


All of us knew Exxon-Mobil is full of gas at the moment, but this takes the cake in a sentence crossed between mixed metaphors.  Really into climate change denial, Exxon-Mobil tells the world to simply lump it, and plays the hang-dog routine by adding that, yes, we will survive.  Exxon-Mobil is revealed to be the most profitable company in the history of humankind but skips-out, year after year, from paying any taxes, and even has the game down so well that it actually gets a tax return.  A huge tax return.  Then there's this business of Exxon-Mobil wanting us to associate a freaking oil company with the United States of America by co-opting the national colors, and the dumb buy it wholesale.  And finally, as Germany of all places becomes the first nation in history to get almost all its energy from solar panels and even has so much surplus energy it gives it away to less technologically advanced nations--Exxon-Mobil jumps into this nasty fracking business. 

Like I said, Exxon-Mobil is full of gas at the moment.  Once its zeppelin crashes and burns we can change the old motto.  But for now it stands: EXXON DOESN'T CARE.  EXXON DOESN'T HAVE TO CARE.  WE'RE EXXON. 


Exxon to gays:  Suck it.  And we know you do.


What does being a gay rights activist have to do with working for an oil company? Anyone reading resumes might find it odd that someone would go out of their way to include such unnecessary info. I'm not saying the world is fair, but I've worked in several positions that required me to review resumes and select applicants. When faced with a thick stack of resumes, I've been known to toss out anything printed on colored paper, anything with obvious typos and/or poor grammar or anything gimmicky and designed grab attention. It may not be fair, but I was hiring engineers. In other fields it may be different, but I was looking for people who had the right credentials but were also organized and professional. There's no advantage to be gained by providing too much information.


The gay rights activist didn't get a call back? Yeah it must be because they are gay and not because activists are repulsive people that no private company would hire without being forced to. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What Exxon has to say about itself:

"At ExxonMobil we believe diversity is critical to maintaining our position as the world's leading energy company.  ExxonMobil's greatest strength is the exceptional quality of our employees and the combined talents of our diverse workforce help us to lead the competition.  We believe we must build on this competitive advantage by attracting a premier workforce from the broadest possible pool to meet our business needs worldwide.

At ExxonMobil, you can expect to be apart of a highly productive work environment that treats all employees with respect, values diverse perspectives, encourages individual growth and achievement and rewards people based on their performance.

At ExxonMobil, we value you because of how you think, what you can contribute, and the potential of all you can become."

But apparently, the above does not apply to gay people.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

"One asked Cox and the Resource Center board members describe their impression of the company. "All of our responses were consistent with, 'We would walk 10 miles in a blizzard when we ran out of gas to avoid going to an Exxon.""

Hmm, they are openly antagonistic to the company that they are lobbying to change their policies.  I wonder why ExxonMobil is reluctant to deal with them?

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