ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has garnered criticism for his close relationship with the Russian government since it was reported that he was President-Elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. But it isn’t only Tillerson’s alleged friendship with Vladimir Putin that is of concern to some Americans, but also his track record as an executive on to issues of women’s health and workplace equality has been questioned.
On income equality, ExxonMobil has provided more questions than answers, refusing to disclose pay disparities between their male and female employees. Furthermore, only three of the 13 members of its board of directors are women, also reflecting a lack of concern for gender equity in the workplace — and a lack of investment in women on the leadership track.
“Rex Tillerson is absolutely unqualified to serve as diplomat in chief. Under his watch, Tillerson has avoided ending gender discrimination in pay at the company that he ran. Like Trump, Tillerson has no interest in ensuring that men and women are paid equally, or that women are represented fairly in positions of leadership. This is not person women want — or deserve — as our representative on the world stage,” Alexandra De Luca, deputy press secretary for Emily’s List, a political organizing group specializing in supporting the election of pro-choice Democrats to all levels of government, tells Yahoo Beauty.
“We will be watching closely to see whether Rex Tillerson lifts up the freedom and equality of women across the globe if he becomes secretary of state. The reality, though, is that Donald Trump has repeatedly nominated people to his Cabinet who have worked relentlessly against the best interests of women and families. And Donald Trump himself has shown us time and time again how little respect he has for women, both in the workplace and at home,” Kaylie Hanson Long, National Communications Director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, tells Yahoo Beauty.
Hanson Long also says, “As the lead spokesperson for the United States worldwide, the secretary of state has a significant influence on policies and attitudes about women and reproductive health care. If Rex Tillerson is our next secretary of state, he must follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and take a strong stance in support of making sure women across the world, including Peace Corps volunteers and American women serving in the military, can access a full range of reproductive health care.”
In a statement, Latanya Mapp Frett, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Global, reiterates this point, drawing attention to the “impact that the U.S. secretary of state can have in advancing gender equality and human rights worldwide. This includes expanding access to health care, like family planning, and reducing maternal mortality and unintended pregnancy. It is imperative our leaders champion human rights to continue global progress, which is why Planned Parenthood is alarmed to see the nomination of Rex Tillerson, who has an international track record of putting corporate profit over the fundamental rights of people.”
During the Obama administration, and under Obama-appointed Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, the U.S. has increased investments in international family planning and reproductive health programs as well as maternal health programs after a decade of stagnation in fiscal support for such programs. Planned Parenthood notes that under the current programs and investments implemented by the Obama administration’s State Department, 27 million women and couples globally have gained access to contraceptive supplies and services. The reproductive and sexual health care provider adds that such an investment results in the aversion of 6 million unintended pregnancies — when, in turn, prevents 2.3 million abortions overseas, the majority of which occur under unsafe conditions.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 303,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, almost all in developing countries — deaths that could prevented by increased access to contraception for women who do not wish to become pregnant. They estimate that 225 million women worldwide have an unmet need for modern contraception — and that U.S. involvement in the form of foreign aid dollars, something the State Department plays a critical role in overseeing, is essential to helping combat the mortal risks faced by women internationally who lack access to contraception, reproductive health care, and comprehensive maternal-fetal care.