Exxon rejects gay anti-discrimination policies

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ExxonMobil shareholders have rejected a resolution seeking the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the company’s anti-discrimination policies.

It marks the seventh year that the proposal has been quashed, although a record number of people did voice support for the proposal with 34.6% voting in favour, compared to 29.4% in 2005.

The vote represents around 1.75 billion total shares in favour.

Human Rights Campaign president, Joe Solmonese, said: “The long-term energy needs of ExxonMobil customers are in no way served by policies that ignore hardworking gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.

“The company claims it already has this policy, yet it stands alone as the only Fortune 50 company that refuses to write it down. It’s our hope that the company’s new CEO takes this vote as a strong signal to join its competitors, many of whom protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity and allow employees to provide health insurance for their domestic partners.”

In May 2004, 28.9% of shares were voted in favour of the policy. A total of 427 companies in the Fortune 500 include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies and 81 include gender identity, such as BP and Shell oil companies.

The Human Rights Campaign was at the annual shareholder meeting yesterday along with representatives from NorthStar Asset Management and lead filer, the New York City Employee’s Retirement System.

Mobil offered such written protection, and domestic partner benefits, to its employees; however, upon its 1999 merger with Exxon, the basic non-discrimination protection was removed and the domestic partner benefits programme closed to new employees.

Twenty-four members of Congress, and thousands of stockholders and consumers, wrote to ExxonMobil Chairman Lee Raymond in December 1999 to protest the policy reversals. In January 2000, stockholders and activists protested at a company facility in Houston, causing the facility to close for the day.

Recently Ford, American Express and the Wendy’s restaurant chain have implemented gay people into anti discrimination polices.