ExxonMobil refuses to fly Pride flag for Pride month


The same company that dumped over 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound is now receiving backlash for its latest hijinks. Taking a firm and definitive stand against the LGBTQ+ community, ExxonMobil has said it will prohibit corporate offices from flying the LGBTQ+ pride flag outside of their offices during Pride month in June.

Bloomberg reports that ExxonMobil has banned what it termed “external position flags,” including the rainbow LGBTQ+ Pride flag and the Black Lives Matter flag. Exxon updated company guidance on what flags can be displayed outside its offices, banning “external position flags” such as PRIDE and Black Lives Matter, according to the policy seen by Bloomberg News. Instead, the rule permits a flag representing an LGBTQ+ employees’ group that does not prominently feature Exxon’s corporate logo.

Employees at the Houston chapter of Exxon’s internal PRIDE organization were not pleased and have reportedly responded by refusing to participate in Houston’s June 25 Pride celebration. 

“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 email read, according to Bloomberg.

The group also wrote in the email that it was informed that Exxon Mobil’s justification for the policy update was its need to maintain “neutrality.”  

“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.’” 

Exxon Mobil has made advancements in its LGBTQ+ policies and benefits in the past decade, such as adding discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ workers in 2015, according to Reuters. The company added gay marriage benefits in 2014, restored protective-employment language in 2015 and added transgender coverage in 2016.  Exxon’s Pride employee resource group has existed since 2008 and currently has 3,000 members globally out of a worldwide workforce of about 63,000.

REELated: DeSantis continues to punish Disney for supporting LGBTQ+ rights

The latest drama comes as employees, investors and consumers increasingly push America’s biggest corporations to take stances on social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality and abortion.

Walt Disney. last month was pressured by employees and consumers to publicly oppose legislation promoted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prompting lawmakers to retaliate by stripping the house of mouse’s of their special self-governance privileges. 

In a statement shared with Newsweek, Tracey Gunnlaugsson, vice president of human resources at ExxonMobil, 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.” The statement continued, “We’re committed to keeping an open, honest, and inclusive workplace for all of our employees, and we’re saddened that any employee would think otherwise.” 

Gunnlaugsson then added, “Diversity is not a stand-alone activity; it is embedded in our core values, our approach to how we develop talent, and the culture to which we aspire.” 

Exxon members of the internal pride group feel that the company should take a stronger stance on LGBTQ+ rights. “Flying a Pride flag is one small way many corporations choose to visibly show their care, inclusion and support for LGBTQ+ employees,” the group said. “These types of visible actions are even more impactful for many of our LGBTQ+ colleagues who aren’t out at work and may not feel comfortable participating in PRIDE events.”

Crude move Exxon.

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Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.