Sex, Lies & Global Warming
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This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post
On May 30th, at its annual meeting, the directors of ExxonMobil will ignore the shareholder request to change its employment policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
They promise they are doing the right thing without any added rules.
They also have promised for years that global warming is the machination of crazy scientists out of touch with reality. They have lobbied hard --and successfully-- against the U.S. signing the Kyoto Protocol. Rules. Why have rules when there is 40 billion dollars of profit to be had?
This February, The New York Times reported CEO Rex Tillerson, "warned Tuesday that governments should not rush into policies that could damage the global economy in order to limit carbon emissions."
Maybe when Rex can chip off some iceberg for his martini from his deck in West Palm Beach he might think stepping up efforts will be a good idea.
Over 85 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted written nondiscrimination policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as have 98 percent of Fortune 100 companies, according to the Human Rights Campaign. And yet, ever the spoiled child, ExxonMobil continues to claim their policies, without the explicit language, are good enough.
Former CEO Lee Raymond was the poster child for aggressive, antagonistic business practices with a complete disregard for anyone and anything except the carefully watched bottom line. The man felt humiliating shareholders at the annual meeting was not only completely acceptable but his right. Call me a pessimist, but I don't believe it was the kind of leadership that inspires respect in the workplace.
Oddly, before the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1998, Mobil did, in fact, have a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation. Unlike the merger of Lotus and IBM, where IBM embraced the policies of the smaller, more progressive company, Exxon removed the policy.
If, as the company claims in its proxy response, "ExxonMobil's existing global policies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in any Company workplace, anywhere in the world," why the opposition?
Even though Raymond is gone and a smoother, more polished Tillerson has taken over, the rhetoric is pretty much the same. While Raymond was famous for his sneering, vocal disregard of the rest of the world, Tillerson is saying all the same things.
Only in a much nicer suit.
Tillerson claims to accept the planet is warming, maybe a little tiny bit, his company is completely and exclusively invested in continuing to pump as much oil from the earth as possible. No need for rules and regulations -- they hurt profits and you know 40 billion isn't quite enough to cover his latest salary increase.
No need to add those pesky extra words to the EEO policy. Why subject yourself to possible litigation? God knows the legal department's hands are full enough trying to avoid paying out a single penny for the Valdez settlement.
Next Wednesday, Tillerson and the board of directors will ignore 15 of the 17 resolutions brought before them. With million dollar smiles, they'll promise to do the right thing.
And insist there is no need for rules, standards or evaluation.
It is a fact that ExxonMobil removed existing protections for gay and lesbian employees of the Mobil Corporation. Enough with the song and dance. Stop with the lies and misinformation.
Change the policy.
Sara Whitman is working on a book of photography and essays reflecting life as a lesbian mom. She posts daily in her own blog, Suburblezmom, which features photos, insane rants and comical revelations about everyday life.