September 20, 2021

Volume XI, Number 263

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September 20, 2021

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How Not to Manage Your Reputation

The other day I wrote about how BP CEO Tony Hayward caught some heat for suggesting that food poisoning, not a reaction to chemical dispersants, was the culprit behind the illnesses that have befallen workers involved in the oil spill clean up.

Well it turns out that unfortunate comments have become a bit of a habit for Mr. Hayward and Newsweek took the time to compile some of the “best” ones.

On April 29, The New York Times reported that Hayward, apparently exasperated, turned to fellow executives in his London office and asked, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” (A possible answer might be the company’s 760 safety violations over the last three years. ExxonMobil, in contrast, has had just one.)

On May 14, Hayward attempted to persuade The Guardian that “the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

Only a few days later, he told Sky News that “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” That might surprise the many scientists who see the spill as a true environmental calamity, the full extent of which remains unclear.

Obviously it’s bad enough for BP that they haven’t been able to stop the leaking oil. Their stock price is taking a beating and they have become an object of ridicule and disdain (as exemplified by this series of satirical billboards). But a CEO that can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth is certainly not helping. As they saying goes,”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The above article is reprinted from the Risk Management Monitor - the official blog of Risk Management magazine .

 

Reprinted with permission from the Risk Management Monitor. Copyright 2010 Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume , Number 160
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About this Author

Editor in Chief

Morgan O’Rourke is the director of publications for the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS) and the editor in chief of Risk Management magazine and the Risk Management Monitor blog.

212-655-5922
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