A Corporate Idealist Inside BP

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The sun sets behind two under-construction offshore oil platform rigs in Port Fourchon, La, June 14, 2010, as cleanup of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil continues. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty)

Christine Bader talks about the “Corporate Idealists” inside the world’s biggest and best-known companies, who push for safer and more responsible practices. was one of those people at BP—until a string of fatal BP accidents, CEO John Browne’s abrupt resignation under a cloud of scandal, and the start of Tony Hayward’s tenure as chief executive, which would end with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil is based on Bader’s experience with BP and then with a United Nations effort to prevent and address human rights abuses linked to business.


Christine Bader

Comments [9]

Sadly, I understand exactly where she is coming from. I haven't heard the whole thing yet, maybe it was addressed, but I'd like to know of any reaction to her book/insights by BP itself, or any of her ex colleagues there.

Mar. 28 2014 01:54 PM
Elle from Manhattan

I only caught the last bits of the interview, and can sympathize with some of the other comments. However, having worked both on the inside and externally through NGO system with these types of corporate do-gooders, you realize how constrained they are by corporate culture and hierarchy to make effective change. Is it smoke and mirrors, for sure on the part of BP, but I commend Ms. Bader for making that point as well as arguing for a more nuance and pragmatic approach for change. I am interested to skim her story, especially her transfer from corporate to UN culture. Both equally ineffective in changing harmful corporate or government practices with respect to environment, social justice and human rights.

Mar. 27 2014 12:59 PM
ken from harlem usa

I don't doubt the guest's sincerity and reasonably good intentions. It's just that the business purpose of her role is to manage a company's image - internally and externally, deflect regulatory attention, and build the brand. And if she happens to also do some good for some people, that's OK as long as it doesn't hurt the stock price. I don't even blame the company for looking after their own interests. What's needed is government regulation that's based on consideration of external costs as well as the corporate bottom line. And that apparently cannot happen without legal opinions and/or constitutional amendment that recognizes that $ does not equal speech.

Mar. 27 2014 12:43 PM
Lika Dioguardi from Brooklyn

While corporate people's intent is often advertised and trying to do the right thing, they also need to actually mean it. But the reality they end up with is a far cry from the reality of a person who is getting kicked out or moving villages. Perhaps people aren't as bad off, but it doesn't change some of the fundamental tragedies of people on the ground. The reality is some minor impact is done so it can be used as a PR event.

In 2002 I did an article in Shaba national park in Kenya, on the effect of filming "Survival" Africa in host communities there. We found that the director did make some efforts, to do the right thing a little bit, but it does not mean that talking to the government, and even some local leaders ensure that compensation is returned to the community etc. Or any where near it. The company will do what they can within their prescribed time frame, often a lot quicker than a community can accept in a positive way. They also will spend the limited amount and then if being nice fits into that limited amount, they might try...otherwise, I would not bet my hopes on internal corporate efforts, as the bottom line judged by wall street, investors and the world it is RETURN ON INVESTMENT. Not how many people you can minimize hurt too, whether internal (employees) or external (human rights, etc...)



Mar. 27 2014 12:37 PM

Wow, this woman is nothing but a pr shill. This entire discussion is making me sick. She dodged the only climate change question.

Mar. 27 2014 12:29 PM
oscar from ny

I wonder who gave these mummies permission to plunder the earth from any mineral and claim an exponential value...these are diluted thiefs who belong in jail..yet these are celebrated like gods and are revered like scientist or auntrupeniers, doesn't a government own this and supposed to share it with the ppl who live there?

Mar. 27 2014 12:29 PM

Corporate Idealism = Public Relations

Corporations are sociopathic institutions and should be recognized as such.

Mar. 27 2014 12:27 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The most important natural resource is the human brain, but those societies cursed with too much in the way of other natural resources don't have to rely on their brains to make a living. If you have too much gold, oil, fertile land, or whatever and most of your labor is involved only in extracting those resources then there is little incentive to innovate and think about other ways of making a living. "Necessity is the mother of invention" is a truism. Without the need to change or innovate you fall behind. Today, the software barons have replaced the oil tycoons and cattle barons, etc. Today software innovation is the way to great wealth. Few people pan rivers for gold to try to get rich anymore. You're more likely to do so if you are a brilliant and savvy computer programmer.

Mar. 27 2014 12:21 PM

your guest doesn't sound like an idealist. she sounds like a sell out.

Mar. 27 2014 12:18 PM

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