- Exxon Mobil will prohibit corporate offices from flying the LGBTQ pride flag outside of their offices.
- Exxon banned “external position flags” including the pride and Black Lives Matter flags, Bloomberg reported.
- In response, employees in Houston are refusing to represent Exxon in the city’s annual pride parade.
Exxon Mobil will prohibit corporate offices from flying the LGBTQ pride flag outside of its offices.
In a policy first reported by Bloomberg, Exxon banned “external position flags,” including the LGBTQ-rights flag and the Black Lives Matter flag. The decision comes ahead of nationwide Pride Month celebrations in June, frustrating several employees at the company’s headquarters in Houston, Texas.
“Corporate leadership took exception to a rainbow flag being flown at our facilities” last year, Exxon’s PRIDE Houston employee group said in an email seen by Bloomberg. “PRIDE was informed the justification was centered on the need for the corporation to maintain ‘neutrality.'”
Following the announcement, members of Exxon’s PRIDE group in Houston are refusing to represent the company in the 44th annual Houston LGBT+ Pride Celebration in June, Bloomberg reported.
Exxon Mobil did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to comment, but told Bloomberg “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.
“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,” human resources vice president Tracey Gunnlaugsson told Bloomberg in a statement.
The company will allow employees to display flags with logos representing their employee resource groups, Bloomberg reported. In lieu of the traditional, widely recognized pride flag, Exxon’s policy allows employees to fly a flag that represents the company’s PRIDE group but that does not feature the company’s logo prominently.
In the email seen by Bloomberg, members of Exxon’s PRIDE Houston employee group said flying the Pride flag is a way for corporations “to visibly show their care, inclusion and support for LGBTQ+ employees.” The company’s PRIDE employee resource group has approximately 3,000 members globally.
“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 PRIDE group said in the email.
The company has developed a reputation for lagging behind on gay rights issues. In 1999, Exxon acquired Mobil and later eliminated Mobil’s policies protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Exxon amended its anti-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the New York Times reported.