Via Futerra:
No one ever said participating in a webinar on BP’s 2010 Sustainability Review would be fun. And aside from the southern drawl of its host, Louise Tyson, who heads up sustainability reporting at BP, it was a tepid affair. Why even bother reflecting on a document that failed to include estimates of the Deepwater Horizon spill volume, demonstrate real environmental targets, or tell us what the scientific community has to say?

Well, mostly just to hear gems including:
  • “BP wasn’t comfortable publishing that kind of number.” The response given when asked why the spill numbers didn’t feature.
  • “Negative word-of-mouth is not helping BP’s reputation – nearly half would criticise BP.” This remarkably whiny finding from the GlobeScan stakeholder survey, which aimed to gauge the success of BP’s report, was at the centre of a 20-minute discussion from our hosts on reputation. Not performance, reputation.
  • “Do you have any ideas that would make our reporting perceived as credible?” No comment.
  • “This is something we need to look into.” The response given to someone asking about climate adaptation and what BP is doing about it.
By far the best gem was BP’s immediate response to my question: what is BP’s sustainability reporting objective?

“To make sure we communicate our approach to a broad range of stakeholders in a concise way.”

Let’s not be surprised that the reporting process actually has no link to sustainability performance. It’s just another communications tool for BP, and not a very good one at that.

After all, if BP was really listening to “stakeholders” like CarbonTracker, Bob Dudley might not have made this whopper of a statement in response to disappointing profit numbers for last quarter:

"We are committed to seeing the true value of the business more strongly reflected in our share price.”

I hope so too, Bob.

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