Corporate reporting

bp targets transparency to offer clear picture on diversity and inclusion

The new ethical standard for many corporates is that of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In its 2020 annual report bp set a high standard, resulting in the inaugural award for Best Approach to Diversity & Inclusion at the Strategic Comms Awards.

The commitment to DEI saw bp create a standalone diversity and inclusion report to not only highlight, but also address, the issue. Starting from scratch with a new standalone diversity and inclusion report brought a fresh insight to the whole process. ‘It was both refreshing and challenging to have a blank canvas – but our overarching guiding principle was our aim for increased transparency,’ says Alice Revels, head of corporate reporting at bp.

That focus on transparency meant the report shone the brightest light on all aspects of diversity and inclusion within the company, sometimes unearthing things that were far from satisfactory.

For example, bp only reported gender in terms of male and female, but the report made clear that the company is working to better understand its non-binary team members and to create a culture in which they will be able to fully declare their identity data. It was also honest that some of the gender ambitions it announced in 2012, such as 30 per cent of senior level leader roles held by females, were not reached, and that more work must be done in terms of recruitment, talent progression and retention of senior women.

This was all in the mightily big context of bp being on a ten-year plan to transition from an international oil company into an integrated energy company with diversity and inclusion at its heart.

The company is working to better understand its non-binary team members and to create a culture in which they will be able to fully declare their identity data

‘The report is one of the ways we are keeping the company focused on DEI and we want employees and others to hold us accountable for making progress by disclosing data and being transparent about where we need to improve,’ adds Revels. Indeed, bp’s transparency mission led the energy behemoth to frequently reveal information that didn’t always match with the DEI narrative. ‘The report shows that bp has a long way to go to create a workforce that is reflective of the diversity within the communities in which we live and work,’ says Mark Crawford, bp’s senior vice president of global diversity, equity and inclusion.

A big shift was moving from equality to equity in measuring diversity and inclusion within the company. ‘Historically, we used the term equality, but that didn’t help employees from underrepresented communities,’ says Crawford. ‘Equity recognises the unique needs of individuals and gives them what they require to be successful and equal in the workplace. Equity acknowledges everyone’s differences and is about being upfront and thoughtful at the start, as we develop solutions with the needs of everyone in mind.’

As part of measuring up to diversity and inclusion targets, bp has set a new aspiration to reach gender parity for its top 120 leadership roles by 2025 and rolling out a ethnic minority talent programme, focused on development with equity in mind. ‘We will use the report to show our progress and keep track of our aims,’ adds Crawford.

So the diversity and inclusion report is not just a one-year success, but has become from its inception a living embodiment of a much bigger picture in pushing the boundaries of what it means to embrace diversity and inclusion. ‘I’m proud that we are being transparent: we are among the first of our peers to show this data and the action we’re taking,’ adds Crawford.