Exxon Mobil has once again voted to remain apart from the rest of corporate America when it comes to LGBT equality. While even organizations with established (and court-protected) anti-gay policies like the Boy Scouts are beginning to head in the right direction, Exxon Mobil's board has once again voted against non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The measure lost 81-19, which is the lowest amount of support in the 14 years of voting since Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999. Before that Mobil had an anti-discrimination policy but Exxon stripped it away after the merger. It seems that Exxon Mobil is swimming against the tide of progress.
Even though there are 29 states in which you can still be fired for being gay or lesbian, many companies have stepped ahead of the law and implemented non-discrimination policies of their own. 13 of the top 20 Fortune rated companies got a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index in 2012. Exxon was one of the seven that did not. In the same year that it was the number one Fortune 500 Company, it became the first company to receive a negative rating on the HRC index.
Exxon is also being sued in Illinois by Freedom to Work. Illinois has workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation through its Civil Rights Act. Freedom to Work sent two fake resumes in response to an Exxon job listing in Illinois. One "applicant" had higher high school and college grades but it was very clear on the resume that they were a lesbian. The other had lower grades but made no mention of sexual orientation. Freedom to Work alleges that Exxon called the less qualified candidate three times to set up an interview and never called the more qualified, lesbian candidate.
Exxon is becoming an outlier. 88% of all Fortune 500 companies had sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies in 2012. 57% had gender identity. 62% extended healthcare benefits to domestic partners. GLAAD corporate sponsors and supporters who earned perfect scores in 2012 included AT&T, Coca-Cola and the Walt Disney Company, among many others.
Exxon received a negative grade on the HRC Index because not only do they have no anti-discrimination policies in place, they also actively worked against the LGBT community.
Many companies support not just their own LGBT employees but LGBT people in their communities. Overall, HRC said 74 major businesses and law firms took a public stand in support of pro-LGBT measures, including several that played large roles in the successful campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington last November.
Recently, several organizations, including the Intel Foundation, the UPS Foundation and the Merck Foundation, among others, delayed their support of the Boy Scouts of America due to the organizations anti-gay policies. The CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young both publicly spoke out against the BSA's discriminatory policies.
Exxon needs to realize that LGBT people are no longer living their lives in the closet. Many out and proud people are extremely qualified and very successful. As more and more states and companies adopt anti-discrimination policies into their constitutions, Exxon is going to have to revise its policies in order to continue to compete for the best employees.