ExxonMobil Bars Rainbow Flags from Flagpoles

Signage is seen at an Exxon gas station in Brooklyn, New York City
As Pride month approaches, ExxonMobil is banning Rainbow Flags from its flagpoles.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

ExxonMobil is facing criticism after the company unveiled a new policy prohibiting its flagpoles from featuring Rainbow Flags and other banners from outside of the organization.

The policy, first reported by Bloomberg, bars “external flags” and will only allow government flags as well as flags representing ExxonMobil’s employee groups, effectively preventing Pride Flags, Black Lives Matter Flags, and other flags.

In a written statement, an ExxonMobil spokesperson said the policy “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,” Tracey Gunnlaugsson, vice president of human resources, told Gay City News in a written statement.

Employees will still be able to have Pride Flags in other areas — at least during certain times of year — and Gunnlaugsson further noted that the company supports workers who display Pride Flags with logos of their respective employee resource group.

“It is a long standing practice at our facilities around the world that employee resource group flags can be flown during signature months,” Gunnlaugsson noted.

Still, the policy is drawing resistance from members of the LGBTQ employee resource group and prompting employees to question ExxonMobil’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“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 workers’ group said in an email reviewed by Bloomberg.

The policy comes during era when corporations have been intertwined in anti-LGBTQ legislation moving through State Legislatures across the country. Disney’s initial decision to stay silent on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill infuriated queer employees, but when the company finally took a stand against it and paused political donations, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis repeatedly attack Disney and successfully led a charge to revoke the company’s special tax status.

The Human Rights Campaign has given ExxonMobil an 85 rating for LGBTQ acceptance. The company received a perfect score for workplace protections, but lost some points for failing to provide the same medical and other benefits to employees in same-sex and different-sex relationships.