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December 8, 2006 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment

Transparency on Steroids: BP

BP is having a rough go of it. After its safety missteps (with tragic loss of employee life) and pipeline leaks, many people are asking whether BP can be considered a green, responsible company anymore (see my previous post).

And now, due to a legal settlement with a woman who lost both her parents at the Texas refinery explosion last year, BP is placing literally millions of internal documents in the public domain. As the International Herald Tribune reports, there are so many items, the company is releasing them in waves, by theme. The first topic is roughly this: what did execs know about safety concerns and when did they know it, all under the heading “Early Warnings”. All comers can read internal communications at a dedicated website, You can even watch a six hour deposition with the Texas City plant manager, Don Parus — surprise! he predicted safety problems.

In Green to Gold, we talk about the “mega-forces” making the Green Wave even stronger: things like globalization, science and technology, and transparency. And of course in a blog-happy, YouTube world, transparency is made all the more potent. Is it really a surprise that the woman made the release of documents non-negotiable for a settlement? The world expects transparency now.

Can companies and executives handle a world where everything they do and say may someday end up public record? It seems they don’t have much choice. As many have said about corporate responsibility, don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the Times the next day. Now that even seems quaint. So don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see instantly available for download anywhere in the world.


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