ExxonMobil Takes Different Tack From Walt Disney Co. On Corporate Policy, Banning Affinity Group Flags

Stepping into the ongoing debate over whether corporations should address political and social concerns outside their business silos, ExxonMobil has said it will prohibit corporate offices from flying the LGBTQ pride flag outside of their offices.

Bloomberg reports that ExxonMobil has banned what it termed “external position flags,” including the rainbow-hued LGBTQ-rights flag and the Black Lives Matter flag. The move has caused several employees at the company’s headquarters to balk, saying they will not represent ExxonMobil at Houston’s annual Pride Parade in June. .

“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.’”

The move by Exxon comes in the wake of the stance taken by the Walt Disney Co. After initially staying out of a controversial situation involving the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, Disney reversed course and said it would work to repeal it. That statement angered Florida politicians, who subsequently repealed a special tax and governing arrangement it has had with Walt Disney World, potentially costing Disney substantial taxes.

Following the Exxon Mobil announcement, members of Exxon’s Pride group in Houston say they will not represent the company in the 44th annual Houston LGBT+ Pride Celebration in June, Bloomberg reported.

ExxonMobil maintained in a statement that it still supported diversity and employee resource groups. It will allow allow employees to display flags with logos representing employee resource groups. Bloomberg said. Those differ from the well-known rainbow Pride flag.

“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 ExxonMobil Pride group said in an email seen and reported by Bloomberg.

ExxonMobil amended its anti-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity in 2015, the New York Times reported.

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