How BP Communicates Integrity: Creative Engagement to Win Hearts and Minds

How BP Communicates Integrity: Creative Engagement to Win Hearts and Minds

Donna Boehme – Ethikos – March/April 2006

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Recently, at an ethics conference in San Antonio, just after we had ended our BP panel on the June 2005 rollout of our new Code of Conduct, “Our Commitment tonIntegrity,” a chief compliance officer from a Fortune 100 company approached me and said, “Now I know why our code launch didn’t work a few years ago. We’re trying to relaunch it, and it’s just not happening.”

So I asked him what he did to roll out his code. “We sent it out to all our business leaders with a letter from our CEO, and it was a very strong letter at that,” he said. When I asked what those leaders were asked to do to engage their teams, his answer was less specific. “Well, it varied, at a minimum they had to cascade it.”

The method sounded like a classic ‘command and control’ style of communication that I have often seen employed by U.S. companies (and many non-U.S. companies). This may be entirely appropriate for some types of necessary corporate edicts, e.g., “we are going to reduce costs by 10 percent in the second quarter.” That’s because the actions are clear and quantifiable, and the path though it be difficult, is known.

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