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ExxonMobil shareholders reject nondiscrimination policy

ExxonMobil shareholders have again voted down a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the company's Equal Employment Opportunity policy.

Responding, LGBT activists were critical of ExxonMobil for its refusal to join many other major companies and ban discrimination against LGBT people. They also were critical of the White House and Congress for failure to act on measures to ban workplace bias.

ExxonMobil, according to the Human Rights Campaign, lags behind most of corporate America on its nondiscrimination policy, including its closest competitors in the oil industry. Eighty-eight percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in EEO policies and 57 percent include gender identity.

Chad Griffin, president of the HRC, said, "No company has proven itself a worse corporate citizen by betraying its LGBT employees time and again than ExxonMobil. By failing once more to do the right thing, ExxonMobil places itself firmly on the wrong side of history. Fair-minded consumers should take their business elsewhere."

The activist group GetEqual said, "ExxonMobil continues to dig in its heels to prove that it is one of the most ardent proponents of LGBT discrimination in the country. While ExxonMobil rakes in billions of dollars in federal contracts each year -- paid for with taxpayer money – it's stunning that the company is so actively and blatantly out of step with the three-quarters of the American public who support LGBT workplace protections."

Mobil and Exxon merged in 1999. Before the merger, employees at Mobil were protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and the company also offered health benefits to domestic partners of employees.

Exxon acquired Mobil, eliminated the partnership benefits and removed the non-discrimination protections.

That fueled a boycott and also work by HRC, the New York City Pension Funds and other groups to change corporate policy through a resolution at the shareholders annual meeting. In 2011, the shareholder proposal received votes representing more than 500 million shares with a market value of more than $42.4 billion. This year, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli again sponsored the shareholder resolution.

Shareholders at the annual meeting also voted nearly 3-to-1 to reject a proposal to set goals to reduce emissions from its products and operations.

HRC's Corporate Equality Index gave ExxonMobil a score of negative 25. Chevron, BP, Shell and Spectra received scores of 85 or higher.

In addition to pressing ExxonMobil to change its policy, LGBT leaders are calling on the president to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

HRC, in a statement, said, "As today’s actions show, when bad actors fail to protect their employees Americans need every tool available to protect them from workplace discrimination. ExxonMobil, as a federal contractor, would be forced to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, allowing its LGBT employees to go to work every day without fear of being fired for who they are or who they love."

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