You are here
DALLAS -- Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders on yesterday voted down two controversial proposals on sexual orientation discrimination and renewable energy sources, ignoring the recommendations of an influential advisory group.
Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. recommended that shareholders vote in favor of a proposal that would call on the oil giant's board to explicitly state ExxonMobil, which employs some 20,000 workers at more than 4,100 convenience stores, was against discrimination based on sexual orientation and another proposal to have the company promote renewable energy sources, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The group, which advises mutual and pension fund managers, said these issues have become so controversial that they threaten ExxonMobil's bottom line. The sexual orientation measure was voted down with 76.5 percent opposed and the renewable energy measure was voted down with 79.7 percent opposed.
ExxonMobil Chairman Lee Raymond said ISS, which supported company management last year in opposing similar proposals brought to the shareholders' meeting, had changed its position because they felt ExxonMobil should follow industry trends.
"If you follow that logic, that would say that we all go down the drain together," said Raymond, adding Exxon has a policy that prohibits any form of discrimination or harassment at any of its work places around the world. He said with operations in more 200 countries, ExxonMobil "experiences more diversity in the broader sense than anybody."
The New York City Employees' Retirement System, which proposed the measure said that while the company claims to bar all forms of discrimination, it does not have a written policy - adapted by most of Exxon Mobil's competitors -- to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Campaign ExxonMobil, a group supporting the proposals, said even in defeat, the measures still received more than double the votes over last year and called the vote a "huge win."
"For the first time mainstream investors are saying to Exxon Mobil that they need to see the rationale behind the company's strategy: the 'just trust us and don't ask questions' approach isn't going to work anymore," said Peter Altman, national coordinator of Campaign ExxonMobil.