Will ExxonMobil Finally Protect its LGBT Workers?

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com May 22 2012 3:16 PM ET

As ExxonMobil shareholders prepare to meet on May 30 to decide the fate of the company's upcoming year, many are urging the oil and gas giant to adjust its policies by creating antidiscrimination provisions for LGBT employees.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is planning to bring a shareholder's resolution to ExxonMobil, with proposed policies to protect the company's LGBT employees. DiNapoli recently persuaded companies such as Equifax and Dollar General to adopt similar LGBT fairness policies.

In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected a request by ExxonMobil to block a nondiscrimination shareholder resolution proposing protection for employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, paving the way for a vote on the measure at a shareholder meeting this May. The company has argued that its current policies already protect LGBT employees.

Tico Almeida, founder and president of Freedom to Work, also announced a petition on Change.org, asking Exxon Mobil to be more inclusive of their gay employees.

“They are decades behind in adopting the principles of corporate leadership that so many Fortune 500 companies have already adopted because it’s the right thing to do for business,” Almeida said on Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer on Current TV Monday night. In a statement Tuesday, Almeida added, "Exxon is decades behind in adopting the American values of civil rights by refusing to ban LGBT workplace discrimination and denying equal benefits to gay and lesbian employees, even though Exxon receives lucrative federal contracts worth millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars every year. Most major oil companies—Chevron, BP, Texaco—already have these policies in place. This is the right thing to do for business, and it's the right thing to do morally."

The petition reads, "The corporation ExxonMobil takes millions of dollars in American taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars every year, but Exxon’s corporate bosses refuse to follow American values—like judging their employees based on their talent and hard work rather than whom they love."