Exxon will comply with executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination

exxonmobil.si

In a statement to the Associated Press on Tuesday, officials with ExxonMobil said the company will “abide by the law” and comply with President Obama’s executive orders, signed Monday, prohibiting the federal government and companies with federal contracts from discriminating against LGBT employees.

ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers would not comment on whether the company will change its own policies to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination. But he insisted ExxonMobil prohibits “discrimination on any basis.”

In May, shareholders for the company, headquartered in Irving, voted down a proposal to change its policies to explicitly prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment. It was the 15th straight year shareholders have rejected the proposed changes, despite ongoing efforts of activists. When Exxon and Mobil were separate companies, Mobil had specific policies protecting LGBT employees and offered domestic partner benefits Once Exxon took over, though, those policies and benefits were abolished.

In May, Exxon shareholders voted down a proposal for the 15th consecutive year to add such language to its equal employment opportunity statement, maintaining that the business standards stated on a company web site ensure protections without having to specifically name them.

ExxonMobile began offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples among its employees in May 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. But the company faces a discrimination complaint in Illinois where a group called Freedom to Work submitted two fictitious resumes to the company, which ignored a more qualified applicant identified in the resume as gay and responded to a less qualified applicant who didn’t identify as gay.

According to government records, ExxonMobil won more than $480 million in federal contracts in 2013 and more than $8 billion since 2006.

—  Tammye Nash

In a surprise move, Exxon shareholders vote down nondiscrimination for a 15th time

DiNapoli.Thomas

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

For the first time in years, I missed the ExxonMobil shareholders meeting, so I didn’t get to learn about the latest in underwater drilling technology, how hydraulic fracturing is environmentally sound, what the company is doing about global climate change or how they hate gay people.

As a company, ExxonMobil has evolved since the 1999 merger between the two oil giants.

In the early years after the merger, anti-Exxon environmental and equality protesters were met with company-paid counter-protesters carrying signs like “wind energy kills birds.” A few years ago, the company decided to stop counter-protesting as the number of protesters dwindled.

Shareholders rarely saw any of the protesters, because the meeting is held in the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center with direct access to the lobby from the venue’s underground parking lot.

They’ve also evolved by beginning to offer partner benefits. In other countries where offering those benefits is required, it’s something they’d already been doing. And states like New York and California were considering lawsuits against the company for violating state laws. New York officials have said a company doing business in the state doesn’t have the right to decide which of its marriage licenses to recognize.

For the past several years, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has filed shareholder resolutions on behalf of the state’s pension funds that own about $1.5 billion worth of Exxon stock. The resolution implores the company to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its equal opportunity statement.

So why not just add a few simple words to the EEO policy that reflect the reality?

The only answer is stubbornness. Exxon thinks of itself as a sovereign nation whose gross national product is larger than most countries around the world. No elected official or shareholder controlling a mere $1.5 billion in company stock is going to tell Exxon what to do.

Because of Exxon’s stubbornness, Human Rights Campaign maintains the company’s negative-25 rating, which Exxon wears as a badge of pride as the only American company to earn such a distinction.

The last time I spoke to DiNapoli’s office, they were unsure whether they’d file the resolution with Exxon again. They were determining whether it was worth the time and money. The cost involved is incurred when the state sends a representative down to Dallas to speak on behalf of the resolution.

DiNapoli’s office did decide to file the resolution, and Exxon buried it, so it was unsearchable on its website.

His office has done a world of good for LGBT employees. More than 30 companies have changed policies, either because his office contacted a company as a concerned shareholder or by filing resolutions. Exxon remains the sticking point.

The resolution failed again Wednesday garnering just 19 percent of shareholder votes.

Here’s what I missed by not going to the meeting: a morning of complete paranoia.

Press check in is at the door of the Meyerson. One person walk would walk me from the curb on Flora Street to the desk. Another would walk me from the desk to the metal detector. Another — usually a police officer — would walk me downstairs to the press room. More police were roaming the lobby of the Meyerson than shareholders. I figured one officer per expected shareholder was hired.

Once downstairs, I would mingle with oil industry journalists who usually have just gotten off a plane from Dubai.

“Oh, I took DART,” I’d tell them. “And I’m just here to see if Exxon is going to continue discriminating against its gay employees.”

Most of the reporters remained friendly anyway.

If I got up to get coffee or danish — Exxon provides a magnificent spread for the press — a police officer would accompany me out of the room to the table. If I needed to go to the bathroom — five steps farther than the buffet — another officer would accompany me there.

Once the meeting started, we watched on large screens. (We were allowed on the main floor, but not with laptops and other equipment).

One year, once the meeting broke, I met with DiNapoli’s representative. We started talking in the lobby but each place we sat, people shadowing us moved with us to remain within ear range. When we moved, they followed. It was like a bad spy drama.

So we walked out of the Meyerson and sat on a bench in front of the Winspear to chat.

This year, I missed the Exxon meeting, but that’s OK. I already know more about deep water oil recovery than any member of the gay press really needs to know. I don’t think I really missed anything.

—  David Taffet

Exxon remains at bottom of new HRC Corporate Equality Index

CEI_2014_ReleaseThe Human Rights Campaign was unimpressed when ExxonMobil began offering partner benefits to its LGBT employees earlier this year. That company retains its minus-25 a score on the new Corporate Equality Index released this week.

On the other end of the spectrum are AT&T, American Airlines, GameStop and Nokia, local companies with perfect scores.

“AT&T was the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation,” AT&T spokesman Charles Bassett said. “AT&T has also donated millions of dollars to support LGBT causes.”

HRC was bothered by Exxon’s refusal to add a nondiscrimination policy and noted its fierce opposition to a shareholder resolution to add the protection at its annual meeting held in Dallas in May.

Texas Instruments increased its score from 85 to 90. J.C. Penney kept its score of 95. Comerica Bank decreased from 95 to 90 this year. Southwest Airlines held steady at 90.

More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Exxon to begin offering health benefits to same-sex married couples

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Rex Tillerson

Exxon announced today it will begin offering health benefits to employees who are legally married as of Jan. 1.

Resource Center has met with Exxon’s vice president of human resources and the agency was told they weren’t going to be pushed into offering benefits by a bunch of gay-rights activists.

In addition to the center CEO Cece Cox, those “activists” included executives from Texas Instruments, AT&T and Bank of America who talked with Exxon executives about how their companies implemented partner benefits.

Another of those gay-rights activists they wouldn’t be pushed around by was New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli who has filed shareholder resolutions the past few years to have the company add benefits. The resolutions have been defeated. This year he threatened to file a lawsuit against the company for violating New York law.

ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, was also president of the Boy Scouts of America.

 

—  David Taffet

Of the 17 Fortune 500 companies with no gay protections, 3 based in Dallas

The Equality Forum has come out with its list of Fortune 500 companies that include sexual orientation in their workplace nondiscrimination policies.

This year, 96.6 percent of the Fortune 500 companies do so, according to the Equality Forum.

Here’s the bad news. Of the 17 companies that don’t include sexual orientation, three are based in the Dallas area — ExxonMobil, Holly Frontier and Energy Transfer Supply — and four others have Dallas connections.

Exxon is based in Irving. Holly Frontier is on Harwood Street in Downtown Dallas and Energy Transfer Equity is at 3738 Oak Lawn Ave.

Other companies with North Texas ties that don’t include sexual orientation:

• Rock-Tenn, based in Georgia, has a consumer packaging plant on Clarendon Avenue in Oak Cliff.

• Dish Network is a major provider of television service in North Texas. If you have Dish, maybe you should think about switching to DirecTV, which does include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy.

• Targa Resources is Houston-based and has a facility in Denton.

• O’Reilly Automotive is based in Missouri but has stores all over Dallas (including on Lemmon Avenue in Oak Lawn.) Try Auto Zone, which does include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy.

—  David Taffet

Drawing Dallas • 11.25.11

As ‘Twilight’ returns, Skylar Brooks shows blood sucking can be a service

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Skylar Brooks, 24

Occupation: Testing coordinator, Resource Center Dallas, and shift manager, Starbucks

Spotted at: Exxon on the Run at Maple and Oak Lawn

A twinkle in her unbelievably pale blue eyes and an effervescent smile are the first things you notice about this fine Virgo. Born in Monroe, La., and raised in Euless and Bedford, the perpetually positive Skylar considers herself a clown and a jokester — smiles and laughter come to her quite freely. She came out at 16.

She loves the nightlife. Skylar loves to dance, and her freestyle moves on the floor have garnered her three “dance off” wins at Station 4. She also loves to sing, especially R&B (Brian McKnight is a favorite). She auditioned for American Idol last year, and while she didn’t get through, says she’s determined to try again. Her love of music and dance is hereditary: Her mother was on the drill team and danced ballet, and her father plays drums and the trumpet and loves to belt out a song.

In addition to indoor activities, she plays midfield and forward in a local soccer league, and basketball for fun. Skylar loves to travel, she has a special affinity for the Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Bahamas).

Enter love  “Three months in, I knew she was the one,” says Skylar of her fiancé, Shereen, whom she met through mutual friends 18 months ago; they have a wedding set in Vermont next June. Both of their families are excited for them.

Skylar’s goal is to become a surgical technician. Her motto: “I help people one blood draw at a time.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: Man wearing flower dress, panties over head robs Exxon near Lemmon and Central

From DPD:

Detectives from the Dallas Police Departments Crimes Against Persons Unit are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating an aggravated robbery suspect who robbed the Exxon Tigermart at 2503 Lemmon Ave. This offense took place on August 16, 2011 at 5:25 AM. The case was documented on report #216965-Y.

In the attached surveillance video, the suspect is seen entering the store wearing what appears to be a black and white flower dress with white boots. His face is also covered with what appears to be under garments. He demands money from the cashier and a patron while holding what could possibly be a gun under the dress. He then flees the store in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a white male, 5’05″ and weighing 145 lbs.

Anyone with information on this suspect or this offense suspect is asked to call the Dallas Police Robbery Unit at (214) 671-3464.

—  John Wright

Barton, Republicans want cuts, but not in subsidies to oil and gas companies

The Republicans now in control of the U.S. House have been raising a big ruckus over the need to cut federal spending, and they are willing to cut just about every federal program there is to balance the budget without raising taxes. Those same Republicans have been excoriating President Obama and Democrats in both the House and the Senate for not being willing to make drastic cuts the Republicans say are necessary.

Except in one area: tax subsidies to oil and gas companies.

Democrats want to eliminate the oil and gas subsidies — about $4 billion worth — a move the White House estimates would save about $46 billion over 10 years, according to Talking Points Memo. But Republicans say, no way.

In fact, Texas Republican Joe Barton, the 6th District congressman who lives in Arlington, is one of the chief defenders of the subsidy. In an interview Wednesday with ABC, Barton claimed the tax subsidies are really just equal treatment, and that without them, companies like Exxon Mobile would go out of business.

Barton said: “Over time if you put so many disincentives against any U.S. manufacturing or production company, or oil and gas exploration company, they’ll go out of business.”

Really Joe? We have to cut education funding because America is broke, but we can’t let Exxon Mobile suffer.

In case you didn’t know, in the last quarter of 2010, Exxon Mobile profits rose 53 percent to $9.25 billion thanks to rising oil prices, according to this piece by Robert Creamer at Huffington Post. That puts Exxon Mobile’s profit rate at about $37 billion a year. That’s “billion.” With a “b.”

I’m not sure why Rep. Barton — who by the way is the same guy who apologized during a congressional hearing to BP because people were being so mean to them last year about that little oil spill in the Gulf — thinks Exxon Mobile can’t possibly make it without those tax breaks. I mean, we know for sure the company isn’t spending any money on protections and benefits for its LGBT employees.

—  admin

HRC releases list of best places to work

The Human Rights Campaign released a new list this week of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.

The Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality distinction is awarded to businesses that scored 100 percent on HRC Foundation’s 2011 Corporate Equality Index. The list is larger this year than ever, although companies like Target and Best Buy that were on the list last year were removed because of political donations to anti-LGBT organizations.

The list includes a several DFW-based companies including American Airlines, Brinker International, JC Penney and Texas Instruments.

The list includes more obvious categories in service sectors like airlines, retail and hospitality but also includes several industries not seen as being in the forefront of equal rights. Waste Management Inc. of Houston is among those rated as a best place to work, as is mining and metals company Alcoa.

A new project was launched to get more Houston-based Fortune 500 companies to participate in the CEI Index. Only nine of 29 Houston-based Fortune 500 companies participate.

—  David Taffet

ExxonMobil votes down gay protections

Protesters at ExxonMobil shareholders meeting
Protesters at the ExxonMobil shareholders meeting earlier today.

Each year since Exxon and Mobil merged, a proposal has come before the shareholders to add sexual orientation to the company’s nondiscrimination policy. And the percentage of shareholders voting in favor of the proposal has increased each year — until this one.

Only 22 percent of ExxonMobil shareholders voted in favor of adding the protections during today’s annual meeting at the Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas. Last year 40 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal.

About two dozen LGBT protesters gathered outside the meeting with signs and bullhorns.

Richard Miller of the Dallas Peace Center was inside the meeting voting shares for a friend from Berkeley, Calif. He spoke in favor of the proposal and said a number of other shareholders, including a member of the Rockefeller family, spoke on behalf of environmental justice and sustainability issues. ExxonMobil is a direct descendant of the John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Co.

For more, stay tuned to Instant Tea. For a full recap, see Friday’s Voice.

—  David Taffet