Exxon faces backlash after banning LGBTQ, BLM flags at its Houston headquarters

Exxon faces backlash after banning LGBTQ, BLM flags at its Houston headquarters
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Exxon Mobil Corp. is prohibiting flag displays in support of LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter at its headquarters in Houston, Texas. The move has led to heightened backlash from some of the corporation's Houston employees.

According to The Houston Chronicle, Bloomberg has reviewed the corporation's updated policy and it reportedly outlines "guidance on what flags can be displayed outside its offices, banning 'external position flags' such as PRIDE and Black Lives Matter."

That update is now facing backlash from the Exxon PRIDE Houston chapter which is comprised of LGBTQ+ employees of the corporation. On Thursday, April 21, the group emailed a statement to Bloomberg and outlined its frustrations with the new rule.

"It is difficult to reconcile how ExxonMobil recognizes the value of promoting our corporation as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community externally (e.g. advertisements, Pride parades, social media posts) but now believes it inappropriate to visibly show support for our LGBTQ+ employees at the workplace," the workers’ organization said its email.

In wake of the negative reactions, Exxon has released a statement in defense of its decision. According to the statement, Exxon does not believe its directive will diminish the diversity and professional support of employees within the corporation.

Tracey Gunnlaugsson, vice president of human resources at Exxon Mobil, has said the "updated flag protocol is intended to clarify the use of the ExxonMobil branded company flag and not intended to diminish our commitment to diversity and support for employee resource groups."

“Corporate leadership took exception to a rainbow flag being flown at our facilities” last year, Exxon’s PRIDE Houston employee group wrote in the email Thursday. “PRIDE was informed the justification was centered on the need for the corporation to maintain ‘neutrality.’”

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