Oil giant Exxon Mobil bans LGBT+ flags ahead of Pride month citing ‘neutrality’
Exxon Mobil has reportedly banned its offices from flying the LGBT+ flag on its corporate flagpole during Pride Month.
In a policy seen by Bloomberg News, the oil and gas giant has updated its guidance on what flags can be displayed outside its offices in Houston, Texas, banning “external position flags” such as Pride and Black Lives Matter flags.
The company’s rules do permit a flag representing an LGBT+ employees’ group.
Exxon Mobil’s PRIDE Houston employee group said in an email seen by Bloomberg: “Corporate leadership took exception to a rainbow flag being flown at our facilities last year… PRIDE was informed the justification was centered on the need for the corporation to maintain ‘neutrality.’”
Exxon Mobil will be marching in the 44th annual Houston LGBT+ Pride Celebration in June, which according to Bloomberg, some members of the employee Pride group are now refusing to join with the company.
The email added: “It is difficult to reconcile how Exxon Mobil recognizes the value of promoting our corporation as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community externally (eg advertisements, Pride parades, social media posts) but now believes it inappropriate to visibly show support for our LGBTQ+ employees at the workplace.”
In a statement to Insider, Exxon Mobil said: “The updated flag protocol is intended to clarify the use of the Exxon Mobil branded company flag and not intended to diminish our commitment to diversity and support for employee resource groups.”
In February, a Cambridge college came under fire for banning the Pride flag from being flown on its flagpole due to concerns regarding “political neutrality”.
The University of Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College voted to ban any flag other than the college banner after a Pride flag was put up.
The college said in a statement: “The college flag is a symbol which unites all in the Caius community. Choosing to fly only the college flag avoids concerns regarding political neutrality, and the difficulty of choosing between the plurality of good causes for which a flag could be flown.”
A PhD student, who raised the Pride flag that was taken down, said: “They try to justify this as not wanting to make a ‘political statement’, which is an implicit admission that the fellowship considers LGBTQ+ equality a political stance and not a fundamental right.”