ExxonMobil shareholders overwhelmingly voted on Wednesday against explicit protections for LGBT employees.
They also rejected a measure to ban discrimination against gays and transgender employees. The company said it already prohibits bias of any kind including for sexual orientation, but the measure’s supporters complained that Exxon does not offer benefits to partners of gay employees.
The company has voted against the protections every year since 1999, the year Exxon merged with Mobil and stripped away Mobil’s gay inclusive partnership rights and nondiscrimination rules.
Indeed, so keen is the company to resist these changes, ExxonMobil wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission in January after the SEC again told them that they must modify their current non-discrimination practices. ExxonMobil argued that because it has a blanket policy against all forms of employment discrimination, the call for a LGBT-inclusive measure was redundant.
However the SEC’s division of corporation finance rejected ExxonMobil’s claims, saying that the company’s blanket nondiscrimination policy relies on state law which does not always cover sexual orientation or gender identity.
Further, the SEC said the information presented by the company showed that ExxonMobil’s blanket ban on discrimination did not meet the guidelines the SEC requires, meaning that Exxon Mobil had so far failed to “substantially” implement the full breadth of the SEC nondiscrimination proposals because the policy isn’t part of the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity statement and therefore lacks the legal force an EEO statement carries.
“As perhaps the largest corporation in the country, ExxonMobil has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen; sadly they have fallen far short,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese in a statement on the vote. Solmonese did add that shareholders still have a chance to do the right thing however. “The shareholder resolution to add sexual orientation and gender identity to ExxonMobil’s EEO policy was a nonbinding referendum and the company still has the chance to do the right thing.”
ExxonMobil has come under fire for its consistently poor record on LGBT worker rights, managing a -25 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index, a new low for any company.
The index assigns a score based on a number of criteria including whether the corporation has basic non-discrimination policies, inclusive health care coverage, and same-sex spouse coverage.
ExxonMobil failed to meet even one of the positive scoring criteria for the 2012 Index.