After many years of refusing to include LGBT employees in their anti-discrimination policies, ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy corporation, has announced that it will comply with the executive order signed by President Obama just 48 hours ago. Via the Associated Press:
Exxon, which according to government records won more than $480 million in federal contracts in 2013 and more than $8 billion since 2006, has long resisted pressure from civil rights groups and shareholders to enumerate such protections in its formal policy. The world’s biggest oil and gas company by market value will continue to “abide by the law,” spokesman Alan Jeffers said Tuesday. He wouldn’t say if that meant changing the language in the company’s formal equal employment opportunity policy, but stressed that Exxon prohibits “discrimination on any basis.” n May, Exxon shareholders voted down a proposal for the 15th consecutive year to add such language to its equal employment opportunity statement, maintaining that the business standards stated on a company web site ensure protections without having to specifically name them.
Even after all those years of dogged refusals by ExxonMobil’s shareholders, there was surely little doubt that the company would comply with the executive order. But this particular announcement, coming from the largest employer in Texas, and coming so soon after the order’s signing, is surely a loud signal to all the other federal contractors. I suspect some well-staged coordination. And that’s a good thing.