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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

January 30.2015, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Applauds as Exxon Finally Agrees to Protect LGBT Rights

 

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced that ExxonMobil has, at long last, met the New York State Common Retirement Fund's request that it expand its equal employment and workplace protection policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Exxon's adoption of the Fund's proposal ends a long-running dispute between the corporation and a host of investors and advocates. The Fund will withdraw its pending shareholder resolution, which it has filed annually since 2001, and was co-filed this year with Trillium Asset Management.

"This is a momentous occasion that calls for celebration. Exxon's refusal to heed investors' and advocates' calls to uphold LGBT rights had made its name a byword for obstinacy," DiNapoli said. "All of us who have fought to have Exxon adopt comprehensive equal rights owe thanks to President Obama, whose executive order motivated Exxon's change of heart. We commend Exxon for joining its many Fortune 500 peers and investors in the 21st Century where LGBT rights are synonymous with civil rights."

DiNapoli believes, as the Fund's proposal states, that corporations that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are able to hire from the widest talent pool and gain a competitive advantage.

"We believe that companies and workers benefit from consistent, corporate-wide efforts to prevent discrimination, ensuring a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees," said Matthew W. Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management. "We are pleased that ExxonMobil, which employs tens of thousands of employees across the globe, has finally added the categories of 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' to its Equal Opportunity Employment Policies."

"President Obama's federal contractor Executive Order forced Exxon to do what they have long refused to do – enact articulated protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign.

Investors have filed shareholder proposals for ExxonMobil to guarantee protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1999. In that year, Exxon and Mobil merged and terminated Mobil's policies that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and domestic partner benefits to same sex couples.

As of this year, 89 percent of Fortune 500 companies have sexual orientation anti-discrimination policies and 66 percent include protections for gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign's 2015 Corporate Equality Index. The Campaign's Index ranked Exxon last among Fortune 1000 companies.

"Exxon is one of the worlds' largest corporations, but at the end of the day it's just one company and there's a lot of work to do to ensure freedom from discrimination," DiNapoli said. "The Common Retirement Fund will continue to engage its portfolio companies to recognize LGBT rights."

The Fund currently has a non-discrimination shareholder proposal pending at American Financial Group.

Since 2010, DiNapoli has reached non-discrimination agreements with 35 companies, including Sprint Nextel Corporation and TD Ameritrade.

As of Jan. 2015, the Fund owned 11,892,910 shares of ExxonMobil valued at approximately $1.1 billion.

 

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