Recently, it was reported in the news that BP has decided to remove CEO Tony Hayward from public’s view. This came after the BP CEO stonewalled a congressional committee in Washington, DC, concerned with investigating the cause of the BP oil spill, and after a long series of gaffes made by the BP CEO who once claimed that he “wanted his life back” more than anybody else involved.
Industry insiders say that BP is almost certainly criminally negligent in the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil well, which killed 11 worker and which triggered the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States. This is the reason why BP decided to stonewall Congress.
However, does this mean that BP is changing their approach to the clean up of the spill or even how the company does business?
Not likely, BP is such a large organization that it has lawyers and public relations specialists working on the best strategy to allow the company to return to profitability, regardless of what is done with the oil spill in the gulf. I like to think of BP as an evil three headed purple dragon, one of the “heads” has been cut off, but the creature soon grows a new head. BP’s newest face is Bob Dudley, will his words be any different than Tony Hayward’s?
For the company’s image it matters who is in front of the camera, however, for those affected by the oil spill the number of public relations gaffes made by BP CEOs doesn’t directly affect their lives. Rather, BP’s willingness to pay for damages, and their combined efforts to contain, stop, and clean up the spill will affect how bad the spill will be for the economy and the environment.
Tony Hayward served a very useful purpose for BP: he didn’t provide Congress with new ammunition during his hearing. Then again, did anybody in Congress really expect him to admit that BP is criminally negligent? I doubt it. That will be worked out later by the courts. However, by appearing to “fire” or sideline Tony Hayward, the company gets to create the image that they are trying to change their corporate culture, and that they dislike Mr. Hayward as much as the American public does. If anything, this move will decrease the number of news stories concerning the BP oil spill and Tony Hayward which are circulating the 24 hour news cycle.
But will the new head of the dragon, Bob Dudley be doing anything different? Or will he just sit back as engineers work on stopping the oil spill. Most likely the later, the removal of Tony Hayward hasn’t done much to change the reality of the situation.