Jun 18, 2010
09:56 AMThe Wind Machine
Now the subject of contentious hearings on Capital Hill, the British Petroleum oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico provides some lessons for those who grow, pack, and ship tree fruit. For example, in terms of crisis management planning, each packing plant and sales agency ought to have a designated spokesman identified should the worst happen. And, a good regulatory attorney on call.
I think the responsible prevention or mitigation of reasonably foreseeable risks is the best working policy for our companies. (Don’t drill a deep water oil well without knowing how to cap it quickly should the worst happen.) Like all oil companies, all food companies are under special scrutiny by consumers and the media. For Big Oil, it is due to the possibility of serious environmental harm. For those who sell food, it is due to concerns over the public’s health, especially that of children.
Do not let PR efforts substitute for reality. With its millions spent on public relations, BP positioned itself as “Beyond Petroleum” with a new bright and spiffy green and yellow sun logo. In its 2009 Sustainability Review, BP states: “Our goal of ‘no accidents, no harm to people, and no damage to the environment’ is fundamental to BP’s activities. We work to achieve this through consistent management processes, ongoing training programmes, rigorous risk management, and a culture of continuous improvement.” This is on page 20 of a 37-page document, one that contains an almost endless series of such reassuring statements of the love BP has for the environment and people.
I wonder what will be said in this international oil company’s next Sustainability Review—provided BP exists a year from now.