HomeBussinessBP toughens workplace intimacy rules in wake of Looney sacking

BP toughens workplace intimacy rules in wake of Looney sacking

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BP senior executives must disclose any intimate relationships with colleagues during the past three years or face possible disciplinary action, the company said, in a tightening of workplace rules following the sacking of chief executive Bernard Looney in December.

Mr Looney resigned in September and was later dismissed for serious misconduct over his failure to fully disclose his past relationships to the board.

The scandal rocked the 115-year-old British energy group, raising questions about the number and nature of Looney’s workplace relationships and the culture within the company.

The allegations that prompted his resignation included an accusation that Looney had promoted women with whom he had past undisclosed relationships, the Financial Times reported.

Under BP’s previous policy, employees were only required to disclose and record such relationships if they felt there could be a conflict of interest.

According to the new rules, effective from June 1st, staff must disclose all intimate relationships at work, “whether or not they feel they represent a conflict of interest”, BP said in a statement.

BP’s senior leaders, a group of about 4,500 executives, must also disclose any intimate relationships that have occurred at work over the past three years. The additional requirement reflects “the influence that leaders have”, BP said, adding that the backdated disclosures needed to be made by the start of September.

BP first investigated allegations about Looney’s past relationships with colleagues in 2022, after which the then chief executive acknowledged some relationships and assured the board he had nothing further to disclose, it was reported. When the board received a second set of allegations last year, Looney admitted that he had not been “fully transparent”.

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The new policy represents the biggest change to BP’s workplace rules since Looney’s departure. The changes were first reported by Reuters.

BP has investigated the allegations against Mr Looney with the support of external counsel but has not published the findings. In an internal memo to staff last year, BP said that to protect the identity of those involved it would not share details of the investigation but that “themes and lessons” learned would be “adopted appropriately”.

BP on Monday said the conflicts of interest policy was last updated in 2018 and had been scheduled for review this year, following the refresh of its broader code of conduct in January 2023.

The review included “benchmarking with comparable companies and organisations and review of good industry practice”, it said. The changes bring the rules on intimate relationships at work in line with the rules on familial relationships.

“As a policy that forms part of BP’s code of conduct, noncompliance with the policy could result in disciplinary action,” it said. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024

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