At bp, we believe in the power of business to play a positive role in society.
That means tackling embedded inequalities which have historically restricted access to opportunities and unfairly put some people or groups at a disadvantage, while favouring others.
As a company, we recognise we need to do things differently. We need to do more to create equity, fair treatment and access to opportunities that meet everyone’s unique needs, and to do it faster and better.
One of our core aims is to promote greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) across our workforce, our customers and our supply chain. For example, we are increasing the amount we spend buying goods and services from suppliers from diverse backgrounds to $1 billion by 2025.
To mark the publication of our second DE&I report, we caught up with Mark Crawford, senior vice president (SVP) of global DE&I to talk about bp’s commitment to creating equity and why now is the time to lean in and lead the change.
One year on from our first diversity, equity and inclusion report, what progress has been made?
Our vision is to be a place where all of our employees can bring their true and best selves to work. We want to attract and retain the very best talent that the world has to offer. Despite all the progress that has been made, access to opportunity and experiences is not equal, and we see it as our responsibility to do things differently. We need to do more to create equity – fair treatment according to everyone’s unique needs – and to do it faster and better than ever before. As an organisation, we are leaning into the challenge and seeking to lead the change.
Last year we laid the crucial foundations, underlined by our actions in developing several unique initiatives and programmes. As people will see in the report, these foundations laid the necessary groundwork to ensure equity within bp.
What are the key actions we have taken?
I’ll share four key examples, among other actions, that you can read more about in the report.
We launched our global ‘Hiring Inclusively’ principles, which use existing market availability data for women and ethnic minorities to support our aim for greater diversity in our candidate slates and interview panels, with the ambition of leading to more diverse hiring.
We rolled out Race for Equity, a unique training program that educates employees on the impacts of unconscious bias in the workplace, encourages employees to think about how their words and actions impact others at work and provides employees with the tools to identify and challenge their own biases.
We also put into place a DE&I scorecard, that provides all of our senior leaders with access to real-time DE&I data, enabling them to track our progress on representation, promotion and attrition of women and ethnic minorities across the organization.
Finally, our LIFT (Leadership Inclusion for Talent) programme, which I believe should be a model for future talent development programmes, takes diverse talent groups through a bespoke talent development journey at bp, with an individualised focus on each participant. The individualized component of the programme is a great example of how we bring equity into the development space.
We very deliberately spent last year making sure we have the foundations in place for sustainable change. As such, we fully expect this to be a year of execution and action, where we implement these initiatives. And, for me, action should result in increases in representation, creating a more inclusive workplace that fully reflects the diversity within the communities where we work and live.
We have made good progress, but what is holding us back from doing more? Where can we do better?
We all have biases that are mostly a product of our upbringing, influenced by our parents, our schooling, culture and society. They exist in all of us, myself included, and we don’t leave these behind when we turn up at work.
This year’s report shows that against our DE&I ambitions, especially for ethnic minorities, we remained largely flat, and I believe this is because people aren’t challenging themselves to ensure they’re giving everyone a fair opportunity to compete for roles and to be successful. Until we acknowledge and address our biases, our ambitions to reflect the communities where we work and live will be challenging to meet.
I also believe that in society, we must continue to engage and communicate with others from different backgrounds and perspectives. In sum, there is a need for more civil discourse. We are living in polarised times, and people don’t know how to talk about divisive issues productively. People tend to support or defend opinions, rather than taking the time to understand and learn. This is a cycle that we need to break if we want to make consistent progress on DE&I.
What other actions could we be taking?
I believe companies need to work together more, not just in their own workplaces but collectively and in the communities where they operate. There is a very real need to increase the representation of marginalised communities in the skills we’ll need today and in future. As such, we will need to engage potential employees much earlier, in schools as well as universities, to help open up the multiple opportunities available to these individuals and develop a consistent pipeline of talent for the future.
However, we need a more holistic approach to find solutions to a broad set of societal problems that impact the progress of people and hinder their ability to prepare for roles with bp. The issues are much broader than education and training, and we will need to partner with groups already working at a grassroots level to address some of these other challenges, such as basic needs like food and housing and we should encourage other corporations to do the same.
Just this week, we announced our support for the UK’s Levelling Up Goals. Kerry Dryburgh, our EVP people & culture, has taken an active role in the initiative with a focus on helping to shape what social mobility means for the energy transition. This is just one great example of how we can lean in and lead the change.
And why does it matter? We believe that talent is distributed evenly across ethnicities, genders, sexual identities, and socio-economic statuses, and so we must do our part to ensure that this diversity is properly represented in bp. Right now, there could be a child out there from an underrepresented or marginalized community with the potential to help cure cancer or solve our climate change challenge. We must do everything we can to identify and develop the full breadth of talent that the world has to offer and companies that do this effectively will have a competitive edge over others. This is an example of “playing to win” in the race for talent.