Do Exxon Mobil's Stock Options Fuel the Wealth Gap?

Press Release from United for a Fair Economy
For immediate release - May 18, 2004
Contact: Betsy Leondar-Wright, (617) 423-2148 x13

Do Exxon Mobil's Stock Options Fuel the Wealth Gap?

“Follow the options, and you find where the real money is. Are women and minorities bumping their heads against a glass ceiling?”

– Susan Strother Clarke
Orlando Sentinel, April 28, 2004

At Exxon Mobil’s annual shareholders meeting on May 26 in Dallas, Texas, members of Responsible Wealth will ask the company to prepare a report that documents the race and gender of stock option recipients in 2003. The report would detail equity compensation distribution and restricted stock awards among the company’s employees.

Exxon Mobil is one of hundreds of large companies that publishes an annual diversity report, including its EEO-1 workforce diversity data. This allows shareholders and other interested parties to see the company’s progress in creating opportunities for woman and people of color.

“While it is important for companies to document the race and gender composition of their workforces through EEO-1 disclosures, we also believe it is important to know how the wealth created by the company is being shared with those who helped create it,” says Responsible Wealth co-director Scott Klinger.

In requesting this report, Responsible Wealth seeks to ensure that all of Exxon Mobil’s employees receive wealth-creating opportunities that fairly reflect their role and contribution to the company. The report will help investors assure that there is no equity compensation glass ceiling at Exxon Mobil that might create future liabilities for the company and its shareholders.

Employee discrimination suits are on the rise nationwide. These suits are costly to companies and risk damage to a company’s reputation. In 2000, Coca-Cola settled one of the nation’s largest racial discrimination suits for $192 million.

While most employee discrimination lawsuits point to differential compensation on the basis of race and gender, Responsible Wealth finds that stock option distribution is becoming an important indicator of fair employee compensation. “Historically, these cases have rested largely on the payment of salaries and bonuses. We believe that in the future, employees will look more closely at corporate wealth distributed in the form of stock options,” says Klinger.

“Stock options have allowed employees to share in tens of billions of dollars of wealth that they have collectively created,” continues Klinger. “With that wealth comes increased opportunity and security for the employees receiving stock options.”

Last month, Responsible Wealth filed a similar proposal with the Coca-Cola Company; the proposal was supported by 6 percent of shareholders. Ten percent of Verizon shareholders supported their proxy. Wal-Mart will soon be facing a similar proposal. Responsible Wealth also filed resolutions this year with Wells Fargo and AIG which seek to link predatory lending practices to CEO pay.

Responsible Wealth ( is a national network of affluent Americans who are concerned about deepening economic inequality and advocate widespread prosperity.