|Deepwater Horizon ablaze|
I've written before about the importance of culture in an organization and here is a prime example of the wrong kind of culture. Had this been an isolated incident, perhaps we could focus blame on rogue employees that took unauthorized shortcuts that led to a disaster. But there existed then (and hopefully not today) a corporate culture of putting the bottom line ahead of safety and concern for the environment and the community.
|Texas City refinery ablaze|
|Fouling the tundra|
In 2006, spills along the Alaska Pipeline were traced to shoddy maintenance practices and shortcuts. While the pipeline is owned by a consortium of companies, BP is the operator and is responsible for inspecting, maintaining and repairing the line to preserve the pristine environment of the tundra. BP pled guilty to negligence and was fined $20M. Once again, expense cuts and concern about profitability over safety and integrity surfaced.
Is this just rotten bad luck or do they simply hire the wrong people to be in charge of multi billion dollar assets, the environment and most importantly, peoples lives? No, it is traced to the culture of the company and its leaders over a long period of time. It is said that employees do what is measured and clearly expense savings and profitability are emphasized at BP.
At ExxonMobil, where I worked for 34 years, every management meeting began with a report and discussion of safety and environmental incidents and company policy violations. It was only after thoroughly vetting these topics that a discussion on sales and profitability could follow.
As I have written before, a company's culture starts at the top and the leadership at BP is every bit as much to blame as the workers that were doing their bidding. But they are not charged with a crime; only the workers that succumbed to a bad culture.
Director, MS in Business Analysis