By a Shell Insider
It comes under many guises and code words, it is hushed at the high levels, among VPs, and in the HR circles, it is not to be openly recognized, it is hidden behind a thin veneer of diversity and giving opportunities to the young.
The little secret of this reorganization is blatant age discrimination. Nobody will admit to it, at least not in public, but the signs and its effects are clear: age, specifically the 55-year-old barrier, is the determining factor in appointments at the EC-1 and EC-2 levels, and it has been hinted as one of the main criteria in EC-3 decisions.
The statistics are eloquent: from the over 55 population that applied to EC-1 and EC-2 positions, barely a couple people survived, and will probably be out before the middle of next year. The less experienced VP’s and HR people will admit that renewing the management ranks and giving way to youth are goals of the transition. As one review panel member put it in choosing an inexperienced younger person over a clearly more qualified but over the hill candidate for an EC-2 position, the younger person had “higher potential”. Or that people are strongly discouraged from applying to lower salary group positions to give opportunities to younger staff. In other words, over 55 need not apply.
The unwritten goal of the transition seems to be to shed 10 years off the average manager’s age. I suppose that the US Equal Opportunity Commission, and its EC equivalent would take a grim view of this policy. It would be hard to find written evidence, but it can be shown that age discrimination exists by its effects, like the changes in age distribution before and after the transition, or the percentage of unsuccessful over 55 applicants. Some took early retirement, some simply gave up and sold out, but many were simply forced and eased out. I am surprised that the staff council in Holland has not picked up on this. I am surprised that the head of HR and the head of ethics and compliance would go along with this policy.
MUSAINT: Ref. “The dirty little secret of Shell’s reorganization” – I can very well believe that age has / does play a part in choice of candidate. I know for a fact (as I was involved with it) that in the reorganizations / redundancies of 1999 & 2001 age most certainly was a criteria that we had to include in the ranking of all staff.
Since the head of ethics and compliance is Mr Richard Wiseman, I have sent him an email inviting him to comment…
Dear Mr Wiseman
I would like to draw to your attention the article by a Shell insider headlined…
The dirty little secret of Shells reorganization
The headline was also supplied by the insider.
The last sentence in the last paragraph of the article has a reference to you, although you are not actually named.
Under the circumstances, you may wish to comment on this serious allegation.
If so, your comment(s) would be published unedited and without comment on our part.
ANY RESPONSE FROM MR WISEMAN WILL BE ADDED HERE (NOTHING ARRIVED)
POSTING ON SHELL BLOG SAT 17 OCT 2009
guest1: On the dirty little secret: Shell has always made allowance to preferentially remove older people (i.e >50) for two reasons. The first: it improved the age profile (traditionally the workforce was relatively old). And second, it was MUCH better for the incumbent as the redundancy package was much better if above 50. At least until a few years ago when a redundancy above the age of 50 was often seen as some form of early retirement. And the closer the incumbent was to retirement, the cheaper it was for the company and pensionfund too. Yes, one could call this discrimination but the bulk of the staff was very happy to be discriminated in this way! Many times the redundancy was held up a while to enable the incumbent go over the 50 year line. What was much worse in my humble opinion was that in the ranking criteria ‘attitude’ started to play a very dominant role and was the vehicle to remove ‘difficult’ people. You know those people that were right but not politically correct. Or put the directors in a difficult spot. Now that I call genuine discrimination!!