Resource Center awaiting response to meet with ExxonMobil officials about LGBT protections

Posted on 03 May 2012 at 12:55pm

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas has sent two letters to ExxonMobil officials and is waiting to hear back about a meeting to discuss the upcoming shareholder vote to add LGBT protections to its EEO policy.

RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox sent a letter to an ExxonMobil board member last month in an effort to schedule a meeting with the new vice president of human resources.

The Irving-based company is considering adding a resolution to include sexual orientation and gender identity to its EEO policy.

ExxonMobil shareholders will vote on a resolution to add LGBT protections to its EEO policy at a shareholders meeting May 30 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

After no response from the board member or corporate, Cox sent a letter Wednesday directly to Malcolm Farrant, the new vice president of human resources. In the letter, Cox points out that having internal policies that prohibit LGBT discrimination are not enough. She calls adding the protections “good business sense” because it would provide “clarity and consistent protection” for employees and minimize risk for shareholders.

Farrant took over the position April 1, so Cox told Instant Tea that he has the “potential to be influential,” if not for the May 30 vote, then maybe within a year the company’s view to adding the protections could change.

The resolution is “not that likely to pass” even with a meeting before shareholders vote and if the resolution passes without meeting with RCD, she said she’d be “surprised” based on the company’s history.

Still, Cox said she wants the “opportunity to educate them about the significance of equality in the workplace for LGBT employees.”

“I think that a face-to-face interaction is often more productive in these types of circumstances where we’re clearly at odds with their position and they’re at odds with ours, so you can only get so far with emails and letters” she said.

Cox said she hopes RCD gets response for a meeting but ExxonMobil needs a “respectable amount of time to respond” to the second letter. If no response is received, she said RCD could simply show up at corporate headquarters or continue to politely request a sit-down meeting.

“Others have been working on this for years and years, we’re not the only one,” Cox said. “But we are right here in their backyard and so I hope that they would have the courtesy of wanting to interact face-to-face with our community.”

GetEQUAL organizer Daniel Cates is organizing a protest at the May 30 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. The protest will be from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

He said the organization has protested ExxonMobil’s meetings before, but this year it is a joint protest to encourage the company to add the protections and to speak to President Barack Obama to sign an executive order to ban LGBT discrimination for companies that have federal contractors.

“We really think that this is the perfect example of the need for our president to sign this executive order,” Cates said. “We need to be pressing him, as well as ExxonMobil, to do the right thing.”

View the letters and resolution after the jump.

Farrant Exxon Letter

 

Carlson Nelson Exxon Letter

 

ITEM 7 – AMENDMENT OF EEO POLICY

This proposal was submitted by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, 633 Third Avenue – 31st Floor, New York, NY 10017, as lead proponent of a filing group.

Whereas: ExxonMobil does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its written employment policy;

Over 89% of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted written nondiscrimination policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as have more than 95% of Fortune 100 companies, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Nearly 70% of the Fortune 100 and 43% of the Fortune 500 now prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression;

We believe that corporations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees from the widest talent pool;

According to an October, 2009 survey by Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs, 44% of gay and lesbian workers in the United States reported an experience with some form of job discrimination related

to sexual orientation; an earlier survey found that almost one out of every 10 gay or lesbian adults also stated that they had been fired or dismissed unfairly from a previous job, or pressured to quit a job because of their sexual orientation;

Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia and more than 160 cities and counties, have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation; 12 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity;

Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles have adopted legislation restricting business with companies that do not guarantee equal treatment for gay and lesbian employees;

Our company has operations in, and makes sales to institutions in states and cities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;

National public opinion polls consistently find more than three quarters of the American people support equal rights in the workplace for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals; for example, in a Gallup poll conducted in May 2009, 89% of respondents favored equal opportunity in employment for gays and lesbians;

Resolved: The Shareholders request that ExxonMobil amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to substantially implement the policy.

Supporting Statement: Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity diminishes employee morale and productivity. Because state and local laws are inconsistent with respect to employment discrimination, our company would benefit from a consistent, corporate wide policy to enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve complaints internally, and ensure a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees. ExxonMobil will enhance its competitive edge by joining the growing ranks of companies guaranteeing equal opportunity for all employees.”

The Board recommends you vote AGAINST this proposal for the following reasons:

ExxonMobil is committed to having a workplace that facilitates the maximum contribution from all employees. While there are many factors that are important to creating this type of environment, one of the most significant is having a workplace that is free from any form of harassment or discrimination.

The Board has reviewed in detail ExxonMobil’s existing global policies that prohibit all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in any Company workplace, anywhere in the world. In fact, ExxonMobil’s policies go beyond the law and prohibit any form of discrimination. Based on these existing all-inclusive, zero-tolerance policies, the Board believes the proposal is unnecessary.

The Corporation’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Harassment in the Workplace policies, included in the Standards of Business Conduct (Standards), constitute only one part of our employment nondiscrimination policies. Other communication initiatives, training programs, and investigating and stewardship processes explicitly state that any form of discrimination or harassment in the workplace based on sexual orientation will not be tolerated, and more broadly, that no form of discrimination or harassment in the workplace will be tolerated. It is these elements, as a totality, that constitute ExxonMobil’s policies.

As stated in the EEO portion of the Standards, the Corporation administers its personnel policies, programs, and practices in a nondiscriminatory manner in all aspects of the employment relationship, including recruitment, hiring, work assignment, promotion, transfer, termination, wage and salary administration, and selection for training. ExxonMobil is a meritocracy, with programs and policies designed to employ the best people, recognize and reward superior job performance, and to create an environment in which employees can maximize their contributions and reach their full potential. A discrimination-free environment is essential to meet these objectives.

Where we operate in countries in which the national laws require specific language regarding nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity be included in policies, we have amended our policies as appropriate.

A written statement by our Chairman regarding ExxonMobil’s commitment to nondiscrimination, including that based on sexual orientation, is widely accessible to all employees on the Company intranet, and we provide training programs for new employees and refresher courses for existing employees. The harassment training material included in our Working Together booklet includes examples and references specifically based on sexual orientation. As a part of our ongoing policy compliance stewardship, ExxonMobil also has annual reporting and compliance procedures, which include a letter to all senior managers emphasizing their responsibilities regarding maintaining work environments free from harassment and discrimination.

 

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