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Hayward remains proud but deluded: “I think BP’s response to this tragedy has been a model of good social corporate responsibility”

By Joe Romm  

"Hayward remains proud but deluded: “I think BP’s response to this tragedy has been a model of good social corporate responsibility”"

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And still a victim: I “was demonised and vilified…. life isn’t fair … sometimes you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus”!

Yes, yachting multimillionaire and golden parachuting Tony Hayward, life really sucks for you.  Sometimes you get hit by a bus — or at least get a $17 million pension and another high-priced job after the worst CEO performance imaginable — and sometimes your recklessness, arrogance, and hubris causes the death of 11 people, devastates a major ecosystem, and ruins the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Hayward leaves his job as he started it — as perhaps the most self-centered, tone deaf, and incompetent CEO in recent memory (see Hayward says to fellow executives: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”)

You can read a bunch of Hayward’s inane farewell “woe is me, I did a great job but I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time” quotes in the UK’s Guardian‘s piece, “Tony Hayward’s parting shot: ‘I’m too busy to attend Senate hearing’:  Oil company risks further damage to US relations with snub to committee and claim it is model of social responsibilty.”

But Hayward isn’t the only deluded person running BP.  What follows is a Think Progress repost, “BP chairman: Tony Hayward did a ‘great job,’ ouster was simply to help ‘rebuild’ the BP ‘brand’ “:

Over the weekend, news broke that three months after his oil company’s rig set off the largest oil spill in American history, BP CEO Tony Hayward would be stepping down. In his resignation statement, Hayward stressed that, “BP will be a changed company as a result of” its oil spill in the Gulf.

As the Progress Report today details, “Hayward’s departure will mark the end of a disastrous legacy that was spent botching the company’s response to its oil spill in the Gulf.” Almost a month after the gusher released 32 million gallons of toxic oil into the surrounding ocean as well as an unprecedented amount of chemical dispersants, Hayward told Sky News that “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” In May, Hayward told a reporter who asked him about the victims of his company’s oil spill, “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.”

However, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who has previously told the American public that he cares about the “little people,” appeared on CNBC this morning to celebrate Hayward’s record at BP. “Tony Hayward has done a great job for the company,” Svanberg said proudly. He then admitted to CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo that the change in leadership at BP is simply cosmetic. Hayward’s presence at the company, Svanberg explained, hurt its image, so replacing Hayward was based simply on “rebuild[ing]” the BP “brand and reputation”:

SVANBERG: Tony Hayward has done a great job for the company through his almost thirty years and he has done it very well, greatly as a CEO. He has driven the company’s performance and developed the company in many, many ways. He has also led an unprecedented response in the Gulf of Mexico. But it became obvious to him and to us that in order to rebuild our position, in order to rebuilt our brand and reputation, we needed fresh leadership and that is why we are doing the change.

BARTIROMO: Of course on Hayward’s watch, the company suffered and the country in America suffered the worst environmental disaster ever.

Watch it:

Given the golden parachute pension Hayward received “” “an immediate £600,000-a-year ($930,000) pension when he leaves the firm in October” “” it’s no wonder his fellow executives at BP think highly of his tenure at the oil conglomerate.

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7 Responses to Hayward remains proud but deluded: “I think BP’s response to this tragedy has been a model of good social corporate responsibility”

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Thought

    As I consider the state of things, and reflect on the past few years, a thought occurs to me.

    We often point out the odd, self-serving, disconnected, often narcissistic thinking and behavior patterns of many of the corporate titans who are in charge of the industries causing the most problems. (Today there are posts on two of the leaders in the oil and coal industries, for example.)

    And we often point out (and in any case recognize) the self-serving “all-I-want-is-to-get-elected-again” political world-view of a great number of politicians, many of whom apparently have little understanding of science, or even of economics, and seem to show a total disregard for the long-term public good.

    And we often point out the sway that Money has over politics and “the way things are”. (For example, five of the six most profitable companies in the world are oil and gas companies, according to the recent Forbes list.) We recognize the present influence of Money on politics and are dismayed, for example, by the Supreme Court’s ruling that opens the floodgates of corporate money into the political process, even more so than they have been open.

    Writing about these things is fine and good and necessary. It helps to understand these dynamics. It helps to shine light on them, as clearly as possible and more clearly than ever.

    But then, in addition to that, the question becomes, what can be done about it? What can we do to actually GET serious and responsible climate and energy legislation? What can we do to make the progress that needs to be made?

    Here’s what I find interesting: After recognizing the problems noted above, we then seem to act as if e-mails, voicemail messages, and repetitive “appeals to reason” will carry the day. We hope that our letters and occasional modest-sized events will help un-narcissify the narcissist, un-politicize the politician, and prevail over the power residing in billions and billions of dollars.

    As I’ve mentioned before, we are whistling in the wind — against a Locomotive.

    I’m not writing this to make a point that “it’s hopeless”. Far from it. Actually, my point is that it’s NOT hopeless IF we wake up and (in addition to the good things already being done) do additional responsible, creative, EFFECTIVE things. Indeed, the task WILL likely be hopeless if we DON’T greatly enhance the present approaches and add new ones, if we just stick to what hasn’t worked sufficiently to this point. Genuine and well-founded hope is necessarily interrelated with effectiveness. False hope is ultimately not helpful hope, especially if it prolongs ineffectiveness.

    I ask, how is it that we can recognize the several problems I started with and then conclude that our present approaches are likely to work? Here again, I’m not suggesting that present approaches are bad, or useless, or wrongheaded, or not helpful. Instead, I’m suggesting that we need some new approaches (e.g., focused and energetic boycotts, in the cases where they are most warranted) as well as ways to greatly enhance the effectiveness of existing approaches (e.g., how do we get 50,000 people to an event that, with present approaches, would draw 500?). These are only a few thoughts. There are more.

    My main point, however, is that we should recognize the several points I mentioned at the beginning — which of course we already do — but then we should consider our approaches in light of those realities. Nothing I see, going on today or being planned, is likely to shift us onto the path that we envision or would hope (i.e., one that addresses climate change, the energy problem, and leads us towards sustainability). Last week, climate legislation failed and we lost one of the great scientific heroes of the day. We need to think better, and do more.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  2. Albert says:

    “Sometimes you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus,” and then sometimes you ride a bus into a crowd and then complain about everyone yelling at you.

  3. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Hey, I’d like to be hit by a bus that produced no physical injuries and gave me $17M. That’s my kind of bus!!

  4. He was demonized. He was CEO. CEOs don’t make day to day decisions about a given well. He was hired to improve safety. Did BP get safer over his 3 year tenure? If not, then you can blame him in general, but not for specifics. Three years is not much time to change a culture.

    It’s like Hayward is the climate, whereas the Macondo well is weather.

    Where’s the supervising engineer for the Deep Horizon. He’s the demon.

  5. Edpeak says:

    I was actually going to make a point similar to the above that “”He was demonized. He was CEO. CEOs don’t make day to day decisions about a given well. He was hired to improve safety. Did BP get safer over his 3 year tenure? If not, then you can blame him in general, but not for specifics. Three years is not much time to change a culture.”

    I’d even add, “would you have preferred a CEO who was smarter and DIDN’T put his foot in his mouth?” That would have meant that the public would be less agitated and more pacified, lack of substantive changes notwithstanding.

    And “the demon” isn’t just “the supervising engineer”. What about the massive pressure, which might have (I dare say probably did) come on top of this supervising engineer from his bosses to “speed up” and far far less (or no) pressure to “take extra time if needed to make sure it’s safe”. The real demon goes beyond even those bosses, or their bosses, to the system itself.

    Which brings me to Jeff Huggin’s commentary much of which is very similar to things I’ve written and my own views about the “whistling in the wind, against a locomotive” aspect of writing letters, and much other protest which is along the lines of “well it’s better than doing nothing” which may be true, but it’s far less than effective, as the historical record of lack of significant action by politicians shows.

    But dare we speak the name of the real “demon”? No, we are afraid of talking about the economic system beyond ‘regulation’ and ‘better regulation’ which, of course, will get run over by the locomotive which will lobby to get No votes in congress, and if that fails, to water down the regulation, and on top of that, if anything does pass, will work month after month to undermine, find loopholes in or around, whatever watered down version passes.

    Our economic model is insane: they are Legally required to put profits not just “first” but above all else up to and including bending rules as close to the breaking point as possible without actually breaking laws (and getting caught, and costing profits) but anything and everything short of that is not only ‘fair game’ it is DEMANDED upon the CEOs and Board of directors to do all of that in the interest of the almighty profits… but people don’t want to hear it

    Just where in the laws of physics does it say that the “only” two possible systems are either ‘communism’ or the particular form of corporate feudalism we call late 20th and early 21st century “capitalism”?

    Imagine trying to explain to an alien from another planet how we set up our economy: we CHOSE to set up production, manufacturing, distribution, etc, in a LEGAL framework that has “one dollar equals one vote” shareholders, not “one person equals one vote” and where the bottom line is the profit “bottom line” that is, we CHOSE to set up a legal framework such that profits are what they are legally obliged to maximize (just in case greed isn’t enough we PUT it in the legal framework of the modern corporation) rather than setting up a legal and economic institution which is, by its laws and structure, required to maximize profits.

    Even people who understand that “GDP” may be a poor measure of economic and human health and that we should use alternative metrics, usually don’t dare to suggest that legal “metrics” by the law should be different.

    Metrics, legal and otherwise, should be based on science, human health, and human values, but instead in our system are based on what? Investor-owned and investor-run and “one dollar equals one vote” is not a sane way for a civilization to set up an economic system.

    Building grassroots democratic economic institutions from the bottom up may be a very slow process, but no slower than the alternative. Maybe when traditional activism within the framework of keeping the corporate-run economic model in place still keep giving us “far too little, far too late” even in 2012, 2015, and beyond, maybe then more people will join us in planting the seeds of alternative democratic economics. It would be better if folks joined us or started their own such projects, today however.

    If this isn’t done, we’ll be not only down the path of ecological larger and larger disasters, but just possibly towards, ironically, a sort of corporate-communistic technocrat-run world with the explanation we have to leave the “Russian Roulette” games of geo-engineering to the corporate central planning technocrats at the “top” – and folks like me will be on of the small minority speaking out against the new corporate communism, and be called ‘unreasonable’ for daring to criticize it, we, the same “leftists” who today are “unreasonable” for suggesting that the present corporate feudalist ‘capitalism’ is not the way to go, either.

  6. Well said Edpeak
    Earth’s natural resources belong to us all (all living things). That anybody can get rich by exploiting them, and at the same time polluting our environment is crazy.

    You might be interested in this http://growthisnotsustainable.blogspot.com/2010/07/whos-counting.html

  7. Edward says:

    Hayward clearly never agonized over the decision to use a cheaper blowout preventer. That is why regulations are required.