Tony Hayward’s role in the Recent BP (Gulf Oil Spill) Fiasco

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 5
Words: 1133
Reading time:
4 min

The role of Tony Hayward in the events in Mexican bay are generally assessed from various positions, and these positions presuppose extremely different opinions on the personality of this CEO. On the one hand, the spill event reminds a provocation. On the other hand, this may be treated as the representation of criminal negligence, which caused the death of people and environmental catastrophe on a global scale. Nevertheless, independently of the actual truth, the aim of this paper is to analyze the role of this personality in the spill and comment on the matters of his behaviour when urgent solutions were required.

Analysis of the Personality

The personality of Tony Hayward is rather contradictory. In general, this person is often assessed through the prism of Gulf oil spill events. However, few would think over the role of this person if the spill had never happened. In fact, this person was regarded as the best alternative for occupying the CEO chair of the BP corporation, as he had enough experience of working on the managerial position, and large hopes relied upon him. The spill itself looks like an attempt of holding the bag above him, as too many events seem untruthful. However, everything depends on the point of view from which these events are regarded in the mass media. Anyway, the best and the most objective analysis may be performed only on the basis of his own attitude towards the problem. The key source of information is mass media which was not meant for providing its own analysis of his personality, words and deeds.

Hence, as it is stated by Molezki, Hayward cares of his position only, and the destiny of the world is of no interest for him: Hayward has stated that his job might be at risk as a result of the spill, saying, “We made a few little mistakes early on.” Hayward received criticism for various statements he has made during the spill, including telling a cameraman to “get out of there” during a photo-op on the shores of Louisiana. Hayward was widely criticized for the comment, and United States Representative Charlie Melancon called on Hayward to resign in the wake of this comment.

In the light of this fact, it should be emphasized that his attitude towards the crisis has shaped his opinion of him among people. Considering the fact that the blast took the lives of eleven workers, and the scales of the catastrophe were immense, his own attitude, shown in mass media, makes the version of a cross-up too incredible and makes him think over the matters of negligence on the place of BP CEO. Hence, as it is stated in Nelsen, Hayward told a reporter that he wished to get his life back, and in accordance with other sources, he apologized later for these comments. Nevertheless, the opinion has been already formed, and these apologies could only aggravate the tension: “we’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back.”

Anyway, even if the truth of the events is associated with the negligence of the CEO and the chief management of the BP Corporation, Tony Hayward even does not aim to downplay the negligent attitude towards the consequences of the catastrophe. Hence, in one of the lectures to students of Stanford Business School, he emphasizes that his actions are ruled by the principle “An individual ambition serves the common good”: During the lecture, he stated to the business students that “…our primary purpose in life is to create value for our shareholders. In order to do that, you have to take care of the world.” Subsequent statements that focused only on the individual corporate remit have also been quoted outside the context of the full lecture.

However, the contemporary business and environmental realities do not coincide with such a treatment of a problem. Thus, this expression could be treated as the representation of professional negligence and ignorance towards the problems of environmental protection. Considering the intensity of the environmental movements, these words only could originate a scandal even if the spill had never happened. Nevertheless, the situation aggravated. While some faults were obvious, the others created an excellent opportunity to make Tony Hayward a scapegoat for the sins of the entire company.

The Spill and Hayward’s Departure

The spill itself might be regarded as the reason for retiring Tony Hayward or his demotion. The board of directors has offered an opportunity for him to head one of the representatives of BP in Siberia: Following its board meeting in London, the oil group will formally announce tomorrow when it unveils second-quarter results that Hayward is standing down from the company’s top job in October. It will use his departure to appease public opinion over the Gulf oil spill in the US, where Hayward has been dubbed public enemy number one for his gaffe-ridden response to the crisis.

In fact, this action is strongly needed, as the public opinion of Tony Hayward will not allow him to stay on the job of CEO. Hence, he did not have any alternative. Surely, the negligence was clearly observed in the events of the Gulf oil spill, and Hayward had to apologize for the deaths of the workers and for the environmental catastrophe. However, this was an inevitable action even if there was no evidence of carelessness and non-professionalism.

The absurdity of the situation is explained by the fact that when Hayward was poured with the mud of complaints and accuses, he did not look like a scapegoat, while some loyal mass media sources aimed to light the events from this perspective. However, when the board of directors decided to “depart” Hayward to Siberia, the image of a scapegoat is observed clearly: BP believes nominating Hayward as one of its three directors on the TNK-BP board will not anger politicians in the US, even as he prepares to receive a statutory pay-off of one year’s salary – about £1m – and a £10m pension pot built up over 28 years at the company when he leaves the chief executive role. It is thought he could receive around £35,000 a year for his new job at TNK.

Finally, it should be stated that the personality of Tony Hayward, though regarded in numerous mass media, may be analyzed only from the perspective of the entire image of the Gulf oil spill. Any conclusions will be groundless while the investigations are not accomplished. Nevertheless, some imaginations may be made.