Donald Trump has picked the first member of his cabinet who could be considered somewhat pro-gay rights.
Rex Tillerson is best known as the chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, the world’s third-largest oil company.
According to the People for the American Way, ExxonMobil has a history of hiding effects on climate change to boost their profits and also has extensive ties to Russia; in 2013, Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin.
Despite having now experience in the public sector, President-elect Trump on Tuesday (13 December) named Tillerson as his Secretary of State, instead of former Republican hopeful Mitt Romney.
‘His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State,’ Trump said in a statement released by his transition team.
‘He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States.’
Whether I choose him or not for “State”- Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. Stay tuned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2016
Tillerson is also the first member of the President-elect’s cabinet who may be considered to be somewhat in favor of LGBT equality.
A long-time volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, Tillerson played a significant role in updating the organization’s views on including gay youth.
In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board decided to end its ban on gay scouts, although the ban on homosexual leaders and adults joining its ranks was upheld until 2015.
‘Most of the reason that organizations fail at change is pretty simple: People don’t understand why,’ Tillerson said in a speech after the 2013 decision, urging leaders to communicate about the policy to help make it successful.
‘We’re going to serve kids and make the leaders of tomorrow.’
But while he pushed for equality in the Boy Scouts, LGBT rights at Exxon took longer to implement.
Protection of discrimination for employees was first brought before shareholders in 1999, just after the merger of Exxon and Mobil.
They voted against it, as they would do for more than a decade.
At the time, Tillerson was executive vice president of ExxonMobil Development Company; he became president and director of the company, before being promoted to his current position in 2006.
Even under Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon failed to adopt policies protecting LGBT employees, despite being called out and criticized for their decision – at least in the US.
In countries where they were legally required to do so, the company had appropriate anti-discrimination policies in place and even extended spousal benefits to same-sex couples.
Prior to the merger, Mobil Oil also had anti-discrimination policies and benefits for same-sex couples, but Exxon rescinded them; they did the same when they acquired XTO Energy in 2009.
In 2015, ExxonMobil finally added both sexual orientation and gender identity to its officially protected statuses.