Pressure Builds for President Obama to Sign Federal Contractor Executive Order
DALLAS, TX -- Earlier today, ExxonMobil -- for the 14th year in a row -- voted down a shareholder resolution calling for a company-wide non-discrimination policy inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.
"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."
ExxonMobil (XOM) has considered similar resolutions for 14 years in a row, since Exxon and Mobil merged and Exxon withdrew the LGBT workplace protections that Mobil already had in place. Year after year, ExxonMobil has defied the conventions of other Big Oil companies and has insisted on actively discriminating against LGBT applicants and employees. This year, the shareholder resolution was brought by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. It was defeated by a vote of 81% to 19%.
ExxonMobil is one of the largest federal contractors in the country, having been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts since 2000. Those federal contracts are paid for with taxpayer dollars, thereby supporting ExxonMobil's discriminatory practices with public funds. There is currently no federal law making workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (H.R. 1755 and S. 815) was recently introduced in Congress, and faces an uphill battle for passage.
In the meantime, President Barack Obama holds enormous power to stem this tide of discrimination by signing an Executive Order that would bar federal contractors like ExxonMobil from discriminating against LGBT applicants or employees. Executive Orders exactly like this have been issued previously and have never been rescinded by future presidents -- especially important was E.O. 11246, which barred federal contractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and also requires federal contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin."
Recently, Democratic donors have grown restless with the inaction of President Obama and Democratic members of Congress. One donor, Jonathan Lewis, recently penned an op-ed at the Huffington Post indicating his frustration (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-d-lewis/no-more-excuses-mr-president_b_3308196.html) and has vowed not to give to the party until more is done to support LGBT equality (http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/05/29/gay-donor-cuts-off-dems-over-immigration-bill/).
Even among its Big Oil peers, ExxonMobil has an abysmal record on LGBT issues. According to the Human Rights Campaign's 2013 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), here's how other Big Oil companies scored: On a scale of 0 to 100, Shell Oil had a score of 95, British Petroleum (BP) had a score of 90, and Conoco Phillips had a score of 55 (they protect sexual orientation but not gender identity), but on the same 0-to-100 scale, ExxonMobil had a score of -25 -- negative 25 points. Only one other company in the top 20 Fortune-rated companies scored below a 55 on the CEI scale.
GetEQUAL is a national grassroots social justice organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org.