BP Lost Its Women Before It Lost Its Brand (And Its Stock Price)

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AVIVAH WITTENBERG-COX, CEO of the consultancy 20-first, makes the critical link between the departure of BP’s senior women and the recent environmental disaster. “If BP had kept some of its environmentally leaning female execs on board, would gender balance have proved a safeguard in the company’s risk and environmental management?”

If BP had kept some of its environmentally leaning female execs on board, would gender balance have proved a safeguard in the company’s risk and environmental management?

Exactly one year ago, BP’s most senior woman left the company. Vivienne Cox was the head of BP’s renewable energy business. A lifelong proponent and pusher of sustainability issues, she was one of many women to leave the oil company after the current CEO Tony Hayward took over from Lord Browne, something 20-first.com reported on at the time (http://www.20-first.com/1007-0-what-is-happening-with-the-women-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry.html).

Watching the current debacle in the Gulf of Mexico and the culture that created it, you have to wonder: Had Cox and the other women stayed, would BP be in its current mess?

In a public address at Stanford University in 2009, Hayward said that BP had too many people "trying to save the world" -- a reference to the “Beyond Petroleum” green vision developed in the John Browne era. They had forgotten, Hayward said, that the company's "primary purpose was to create value for our shareholders." But now the company has shattered that purpose as well as its green vision. It’s tragic that the company didn't see how linked the two subjects are.

This all has shades of déjà vu. Last year many questioned whether Lehman Brothers would have failed had it instead been Lehman Sisters. Like petroleum, investment banking is a highly male-dominated sector whose culture – and bonus system -- is designed to encourage extremely risky behavior. If BP had kept some of its environmentally leaning female execs on board, would gender balance have proved a safeguard in the company’s risk and environmental management?

Go to http://www.20-firstblog.com/?p=374 for the FULL ARTICLE by AVIVAH WITTENBERG-COX.

About 20-first
20-first is one of the world’s leading gender consultancies. 20-first works with progressive companies interested in diversifying their leadership teams and optimising both halves of the talent pool and both halves of the market – the female and male halves. The firm’s renowned Building Gender Balanced Businesses programmes and suite of online tools help companies harness the talent and market opportunities of the 21st century. More at http://www.20-first.com

About AVIVAH WITTENBERG-COX
Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is CEO of 20-first, author of the newly released HOW Women Mean Business, A Step by Step Guide to Profiting from Gender Balanced Business (Wiley, April 2010), and co-author of the best-selling, WHY Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution (Wiley 2008).

Contact information:
20-first
http://www.20-first.com
press(at)20-first(dot)com
+33 1 39 75 42 24

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