The well known oil companies are in the news again for the wrong reasons. Today it has emerged that the BP and Shell offices have been raided as part of a price-fixing investigation.
Companies like these are frequently maligned by environmental groups which fails to dent their profits. This time the news is different. Something as fundamental as the alleged price fixing - if proven or not - will undermine the consumer confidence in these companies. Their reputation will suffer. This is no longer about oil spills in remote places but ripping people off and the £ in their pocket.
This led me to think about the book Rework by Fried and Hansson which includes a chapter about mission statements. They rightly conclude that "standing for something isn't just about writing it down. It's about believing it and living it."
Now let's look at BP's 'Respect' section of their corporate values (my underlining):
We respect the world in which we operate. It begins with compliance with laws and regulations. We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and behave in ways that earn the trust of others. We depend on the relationships we have and respect each other and those we work with. We value diversity of people and thought. We care about the consequences of our decisions, large and small, on those around us.
The oil companies have said they are cooperating with the investigation. An ok corporate response to an ongoing investigation. At the same time I would recommend they make sure their actions in all areas of their business match their story, review their mission statements and check they are living these values rather than merely putting them on their websites.