I'm Thinking About BP's Employees
Imagine you're a BP employee. Most people, especially in the US, now hate the company for which you work. Talkshow hosts constantly make fun of your CEO, Tony Hayward. Some consumers even boycott your employer's gas stations. In fact, when you meet people, you no longer want to admit you work for BP.
Around 80,000 people in 100 countries work for BP. Most don't cause oil wells to fail and gush into oceans; wildlife to die; or people to suffer physically, emotionally, and economically. Quite the opposite. The Obama administration has deliberately not ordered a government takeover of the containment and cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, because it realizes that by itself, it may not be able to pull that off.
BP's employees are the best bet to finding a solution. They have already scrambled to find ways of tackling the numerous problems associated with the disaster. The solution to the central problem of ending the gush of oil from the well will mostly likely originate from frontline employees — not those in the corner office or people in government.
The effects of the disaster are so complex and widespread that people throughout the BP organization will have to work to mitigate the consequences. Not only those in the boats and on the beaches but also, BP's engineers, marketers, salespeople, gas pumpers — almost everybody who collects a pay check from the company — will be called upon to do so.
The people who work for BP are fighting a battle and we need them — and should encourage them — to do their best and win. Think of the Iraq war. Even those who opposed it supported the military women and men who fought there.
Let committees grill the CEO and news anchors shake their heads at every mention of BP, but don't sneer at the company's employees. They've been attending to their duties and responsibilities through a string of problems and managerial shakeups in recent years. They prayed for colleagues and friends who died in March 2005 when a BP refinery exploded in Texas. They rooted for their colleagues who fixed the pipeline that ruptured in Alaska in 2006. They cringed when BP and its subsidiaries paid $370 million in 2007 to settle several criminal charges against the company.
BP's employees deserve our support because they are the ones who can, and will, resolve this crisis.