Shareholder Resolutions Fall Short at ExxonMobil

May 25, 2005 ( - Some 10.3% of ExxonMobil shareholders voted Wednesday to support a proxy resolution calling for the company to explain its denial that fossil fuel burning contributes to global climate change.

A news release said that the support for the Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) – sponsored proxy resolution represented about 655.6 million shares worth more than $36 billion. The latest unofficial vote tally from Wednesday’s ExxonMobil annual shareholder meeting in Irvin, Texas was up slightly from the 8.8% of shareholders who backed a similar measure last year.   

Also at the firm’s corporate annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, 28.3% of Exxon Mobil’s shareholders supported a resolution requesting that the company’s board of directors undertake a comprehensive review on how it will meet the greenhouse gas reductions targets in countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol, according to CERES.  The measure was backed by many of the company’s largest shareholders, including the CalPERS and CalSTRS public pension funds in California, as well as influential proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).  The highest previous vote on a climate change resolution with ExxonMobil was 22.2% at the company’s 2003 annual meeting.

Sexual Orientation

ExxonMobil shareholders were more supportive of a shareholder resolution to amend the company’s written equal employment opportunity policy to include the category of sexual orientation, a resolution that received the highest vote of all the resolutions this year, 29.4%, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group.  That was slightly higher than the 28.9% supporting the measure last year.  Mobil Corp. offered such written protection, and domestic partner benefits, to its employees; however, upon its 1999 merger with Exxon, the basic non-discrimination protection was removed and the domestic partner benefits program closed to new employees, according to the HRC.        

With regard to its current policies, the oil giant says that it is “…guided by the laws in the nearly 200 countries and territories where we operate. In countries such as the Netherlands and Canada, country laws require plan coverage for homosexual relationships, and is provided by the company. In the United States we have elected to adopt the definition of spouse used in federal legislation, which has the effect of limiting coverage to heterosexual couples. We believe that basing employee benefits on legally recognized spousal relationships that are broadly recognized within the country is the only way our benefits plans can be applied in a fair, rational, and consistent manner for our 88,000 employees worldwide.”  The firm also notes that employees who received domestic partner benefits at Mobil retained those benefits at the merged company.