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ExxonMobil Shareholders Vote Down LGBT Anti-Discrimination Policy

On Wednesday, ExxonMobil shareholders voted overwhelmingly to reject adding sexual orientation and gender presentation to the company’s nondiscrimination policies, according to the Dallas Voice. The final tally was 80% against to 20% in favor.

So much for boosting the company’s -25 rating on HRC’s Corporate Responsibility Index.

Though Mobil was once of the first corporations to offer benefits to same-sex partners and include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination order, the policy was rescinded when the company merged with Exxon in 2009.

More than 50 demonstrators were lined up outside the shareholders’ meeting in Dallas’ Arts District, showing their support for LGBT rights, including members of Occupy Dallas, United Steel Workers and GetEqual. “They’re clinging to antiquated business practices,” GetEqual’s Daniel Cates said of ExxonMobil. “It’s a matter of really learning that this is good for business.”

They might learn sooner rather than later, as the Voice points out:

This year, the resolution was initiated by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who wants the company to not only amend the nondiscrimination policy, but also to begin offering health benefits to the spouses of employees married in the Empire State.

The comptroller controls the state’s pension funds. As of May 18, New York’s pension fund held more than 16 million shares of ExxonMobil worth more than $1 billion.

What’s the expression? Oh yeah: Money talks and bullshit walks.

photo by: 1010321
By:           Dan Avery
On:           May 31, 2012
Tagged: , ,
  • 27 Comments
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      And the boycott continues…

      May 31, 2012 at 6:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • n900mixalot
      n900mixalot

      @Shannon1981: No boycott necessary. Their gas is already cost-prohibitive in and of itself. Though their coctane booster will be missed.

      May 31, 2012 at 9:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • n900mixalot
      n900mixalot

      OCTANE! hahahaha

      May 31, 2012 at 9:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      I really do not understand why anyone would willingly open themselves up to a plethora of lawsuits when they do not need to. I think its a messed up situation where you get to opt out of discrimination suits, but blame that on the law of this country not the regulations of ExxonMobil.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexi3
      Alexi3

      ExxonMobile had earnings of $9.5 billion in the first quarter of 2012 which was down 11% from the first quarter of 2011. I suspect that very little, if any, of that downturn can be attributed to the boycott. In any event they are far from feeling the pinch and if we are to have any impact on changing their discrimination policies we are going to need more allies like the NY State Comptroller and other large share holders to put real pressure on them. What would be of real help would be if we could get more union support. Of course, due to many factors beyond our control, the unions don’t have the clout they once had. One of the problems with share holder votes is that often they are made by proxy; so that an 80% to 20% vote doesn’t nessasarily mean that 80% of the actual shareholders voted this way. Still, with such a wide margin, it’s clear there is much to be done before they change their ways.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1equalityUSA
      1equalityUSA

      Even if the shareholders voted against LGBT, Exxon could tell them to go fish and stand for non-discrimination. The shareholders aren’t going to sell their stock and lose out on profits. Lame excuses from the top administrators. Nationwide protests of both the straight and LGBT communities may have an impact. On-line petitions have been fairly effective in getting UCSF to perform a kidney transplant for a man and a Safeway security guard got his job back, etc. I would sign a petition calling for Exxon to recognize equal treatment. We have to give a thousand moms something to swarm over.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt
      Hyhybt

      Anyone know *why* either the company or its stockholders would be so strongly against this?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HM
      HM

      Pressure doesn’t start in boardrooms or shareholders votes.

      Pressure starts in calling your portfolio managers and telling them to dump Exxon stock, like I just did. When they tell me it’s very profitable, then I tell them “Exxon Mobil has institutionalized homophobia and doesn’t seem to care. I don’t want any part of it.”
      Now there’s a stockbroker with gay friends and family who’s pondering what I said. And so on and so on.

      We in the gay community learned in the hardest way how viruses work. Only this time, the virus is the truth. You can boycot, fine. But spreading the truth will be the only way this corporate beast is humbled. This time, the virus is the truth. and it’s also the cure.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      They are one of the more profitable companies in the world and yet the U.S. govt. not only gives them tax breaks, but hands out subsidies to them.

      Not only does it offend me that my tax dollars are going to such a company, but that is the only money they’re getting from me. There are plenty of other gas stations out there.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Matt
      Matt

      @Shannon1981:

      Boycotting a gas company has zero effect! Petroleum is a commodity, if a particular company you are boycotting doesn’t sell their gas due to a boycott they’ll just sell it to a company that you do purchase it from! A boycott would be symbolic at best.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bob
      Bob

      For shame, ExxonMobil. For shame.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MACDONALDBANK
      MACDONALDBANK

      Being black … left-handed or being gay is just as natural. Bibles and the torah which includes leviticus 18:22 should be immediately banned for promoting hatred against minorities; namely the gay community and the crosses removed from all schools and churches.

      The evil writings in Leviticus 18:22 against gays depict; rules for temple rituals or “P” … Priestly Rules & expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public but to priests. Leviticus exists in the old testament & torah.

      “It is written; so therefore it shall be? We are the chosen people? Such a wicked fantasy.” To see the religious lunatics manipulate government and our lives is shameful.

      It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return … it is something that should be celebrated! If it is between two guys or girls all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!

      May 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexi3
      Alexi3

      Something about this that has bothered me from the very start was why such an internal human resource policy was ever put to the sharholder’s for a vote to begin with. Especially adding sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy. The company could/should have simply inserted sexual orientation in the list that already included race, age, ethic origion, disability, etc. within the internal policies of the company I’m sure they give to each new employee. The only reason to put this to a vote was to have it defeated but the blame deflected from company executives to something vague and impersonal like a sharholder’s meeting where no individual can be held accountable. I think this is particularly true in this instance since Mobile already had such protections in place before the merger. Rather than leaving a policy which was already in place they went to the effort to remove it. Shame on them. And, only if they feel shamed by their move will they change it and that means bad press over the issue. As another commentor has already noted oil/gas is a commodity and ExxonMobile will have no problem moving this particular commodity in a world clammoring for ever more energy.

      May 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Clark Kent
      Clark Kent

      Someone please provide a list of major stockholders as well as any mutual funds containing Exxon/Mobil stock.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexi3
      Alexi3

      Forgive me, but I just have to point something out. On a matter of real substance like this there are 15 comments. Three of which are my own; so that leaves 12. On Gareth Thomas; 53. To be fair 2 of those were mine; so that leaves 51. Something is slightly out of line.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 7 · Hyhybt wrote, “Anyone know *why* either the company or its stockholders would be so strongly against this?”

      If you own shares from a company, you’ll periodically get a form asking you to vote on some issue, and the form usually includes recommendations from the board of directors. Sometimes there is an option to select all of the directors’ recommendations. If you are an individual and get a lot of these from different companies, there is no way you are going to read anything in detail. Unless you want to spend a lot of time, your choices are to abstain or to follow the board of directors’ recommendations. This isn’t true if you own shares of a single company but if you own shares in a lot of companies, understanding each issue is really too much work – with 100 companies, you might end up having to think about 500 to 1000 items to vote on.

      So, the first thing I’d ask is what the board of directors’ recommendation on this issue was. Also, was it put there by ExxonMobile or was it put there by some shareholders? If the latter, there might have been something else in the fine print that the board objected to (or perhaps the board by default recommends against any shareholder-initiated item – kind of a “pissing contest” thing).

      May 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt
      Hyhybt

      @Alexi3: Yes, and the thing that’s out of line is your metric. A large comment string has to do with whether a conversation gets going. Conversations last longer when people disagree, regardless of the importance of the topic. Pretty much everyone reading Queerty is, presumably, in favor of protections and benefits for gay employees, so there’s very little to argue over.

      Perhaps you’ll answer this: why *should* a longer conversation result from this topic than the other?

      @B: All well and good, but perhaps I worded the question badly. By “either the company or the stockholders” I meant whichever really was making the decision. By your post, that would be the company. Your explanation does cover very nicely why the vote would be so lopsided, but why would they have fought this so hard in the first place? It *can’t* cost that much money, and going with the non-discrimination policy only without the benefits would have been progress without costing anything at all.

      Jun 1, 2012 at 12:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JayUVA
      JayUVA

      It doesn’t seem reasonable that the change in policy was cost-related. A company with several thousand employees is likely to have a few hundred LGBT employees, yes, but it is unlikely that all of the LGBT employees have partners. With the billions in revenue and profit of ExxonMobil, the cost to continue the policy would not be excessive. So… the policy change must have been driven by a board member or huge shareholder that has the ear of the board.

      Jun 1, 2012 at 12:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexi3
      Alexi3

      @Hyhybt: how many comments of any substance did you read about the Gareth Thomas article?

      Jun 1, 2012 at 3:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tinkerbell
      tinkerbell

      …and my family continues to vote down spending ANY money at Exxon-Mobil. I know that it means nothing to such a huge corp, but at least I can sleep at night.

      Jun 1, 2012 at 4:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt
      Hyhybt

      @Alexi3: Honestly? I don’t even remember who that is. But why must comments be of substance?

      Jun 1, 2012 at 11:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Re No. 17 · Hyhybt asked, “but why would they have fought this so hard in the first place? It *can’t* cost that much money, and going with the non-discrimination policy only without the benefits would have been progress without costing anything at all.”

      They probably didn’t fight it very hard, but simply put a recommended vote on the form, which seems to be standard practice. As to why, the board might have felt that this sort of issue should be handled at a lower level. Or they might have been concerned about a company-wide policy creating problems in some of the countries Exxon Mobil operates in – some of the oil-producing countries are anything but enlightened and their could be conflicts with local laws in those countries.

      Jun 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt
      Hyhybt

      @B: Well, they fought it at least a bit more than just putting a recommendation against on the ballot, because they tried to keep it off the ballot entirely. And it can’t be simply that they don’t want it done at that level, or it would have been done at whatever level they thought *was* appropriate sometime in the past 13 years. The last point makes sense…. except that their competitors do business with those same countries with (so far as I know) no such problems. Now it might be that there have been significant troubles of that kind, or it might be that I’m just totally misinformed in thinking that other oil companies already have something like this policy in place, or whoever ‘s in charge of E/M is paranoid…

      Jun 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt
      Hyhybt

      I truly despise that companies almost never give meaningful answers to “why” questions.

      Jun 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Re No 23: “The last point makes sense…. except that their competitors do business with those same countries with (so far as I know) no such problems.”

      Keep in mind that there is a difference between a policy written by corporate lawyers and ones written by shareholders. My guess is that their competitors were pro-active and had their lawyers word it so as to keep them out of trouble internationally. Shareholder-proposed policies do not necessarily get all the details right in the sense of keeping the corporation out of trouble.

      While one might like to see multinational corporations thumb their noses at repressive regimes with brain-dead policies, the problem is that we don’t want corporations ignoring laws they don’t like in general (e.g., environmental protection laws).

      Didn’t know this had come up before or that the board tried to keep it off the ballot – that wasn’t in the news articles I saw.

      Jun 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexi3
      Alexi3

      @Hyhybt: It honestly never occured to me why anyone would take the time to write a comment that didn’t in some way have some relevance to the topic under discussion. But, I have come to the conclusion that you are right, and there is no real reason why a “comment” has to be of substance. After all, they’re not defending their doctoral thesis. Point, game, match.

      Jun 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyhybt
      hyhybt

      Not at all what I meant. Plenty of articles are about things that don’t really matter; that doesn’t mean they don’t make good conversation starters. Likewise, there often isn’t all that much to SAY about something important.

      I do wish, though, that just once when someone raises the premise that comment thread length ought to be proportional to the weightiness of the subject matter, they’d at least try to give some kind of REASON rather than presenting it as if it were not only true, but obvious. Especially when asked for one.

      Jun 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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