Exxon Mobil is experiencing its highest attrition rate in decades, with disgruntled workers complaining about a strict, fear-based corporate culture, according to a new report.
In the past two years, even as Exxon raked in record profits, it lost 12,000 employees worldwide, less than half of whom were laid off, according to a lengthy report published Thursday in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Citing interviews with more than 40 current and former Exxon employees, the report details how many of them have bristled at a culture they describe as stagnant and authoritarian.
In one instance, during a virtual town hall last year, Exxon’s global vice president of IT, Bill Keillor, allegedly exploded when workers bombarded him with tough questions about compensation and workplace policies. remote work in a rare show of defiance.
Keillor snapped and said anyone who wanted to be a “hotshot” should go work for Amazon, adding “good luck to you,” those in attendance recalled.
Exxon took issue with the article’s characterization of its corporate culture as false, with a spokeswoman saying isolated incidents were blown out of proportion.
Exxon Mobil is experiencing its highest attrition rate in decades, with disgruntled workers complaining about a strict, fear-based corporate culture
Exxon’s global IT vice president Bill Keillor reportedly exploded when employees bombarded him with tough questions about pay and remote work policies
“Like almost all companies, attrition has increased over the past two years, but we don’t view this as a long-term trend,” Exxon said in a statement.
“It’s important to note that we do well when hiring top talent for roles across the company, at entry level and for leadership roles,” the company said.
A titan of the oil industry with 140 years of history, Exxon has a reputation for old-fashioned corporate management practices that may seem out of step with the times.
Acronyms and jargon are everywhere, and to move up the ladder, employees must operate under a strict hierarchy with strict rules, according to Bloomberg.
One of these rules requires workers to hold the handrail at all times on stairs. Although it was written primarily with oil rigs and refineries in mind, the rule is strictly enforced, even in corporate offices.
The exterior of the ExxonMobil Houston campus is seen above. Office workers are required to hold handrails on stairs, although the rule is primarily for oil rigs
The sun sets over an ExxonMobil natural gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico in a file photo
Dar-Lon Chang, a mechanical engineer who left the company in 2019 after nearly two decades, told the magazine: “Senior management doesn’t like to hear bad news, so to stay with Exxon for the long term, you must drink the Kool-Aide.’
“It doesn’t sit well with young people and especially those worried about the climate crisis,” said Chang, who said when he joined Exxon in 2003 he believed it would play a key role in the away from the world of fossil fuels.
Instead, Chang said he was disappointed, alleging the company had repeatedly rejected potential renewable energy investments out of concern for profitability.
Another incident troubled some Exxon employees of color, when the company issued an executive order in April 2020 banning “external standing flags” from its major corporate flagpoles, such as Gay Pride and Black Lives Matter.
Former Exxon employee Dar-Lon Chang (above) said: ‘Top management doesn’t like to hear bad news, so to stay at Exxon long-term you have to drink the Kool-Aid “
Because the rainbow pride flag had flown from the same poles a year earlier, some black employees were outraged, suspecting the policy specifically targeted the BLM flag.
Exxon insisted in a statement that diversity is “embedded in our core values.”
“The idea that ExxonMobil’s culture is what these employees say it is doesn’t hold water for two reasons: how many people join this company each year and how long people stay,” said a door- company word.
“No culture is perfect and it’s far too easy to take a few data points and paint with a wide brush, but that doesn’t produce an accurate portrait.”