By John Donovan
A few days ago I published an article pointing out that the Shell Business Principles document, proclaiming Shell’s core values and setting out the ethical platform on which Royal Dutch Shell supposedly operates, is conspicuously out of date.
The version published on shell.com still bears the name of Peter Voser who resigned as Shell CEO in controversial circumstances a year ago.
The document is accessible in multiple languages on shell.com. Those in Dutch, Chinese, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese – are all signed by Peter Voser.
A very slow transition seems to be in progress. We have found a Shell Code of Conduct document signed by Ben van Beurden, the current COE.
However, on a number of Shell websites e.g. the UK, Nigeria, Shell Sarawak and Oman, the Shell Business principles document is signed by Jeroen van dear Veer, who was CEO three CEO generations ago.
Here is a screen shot from the document on the Shell UK site taken 2 December 2014.
Perhaps, somewhere in the far flung Shell empire, there is one still signed by Sir Henri Deterding, or even Moses.
If current senior Shell management has such little regard for the Shell Business Principles, why should Shell employees, ethical investors, or anyone else, treat the principles as anything other than empty words that do not need to be heeded.
We have received encouraging Shell insider comments about the leadership qualities of Mr Ben van Beurden. Whoever has direct responsibility for the global uniformity of the Shell General Business Principles and making sure they are current, is badly letting him down, bearing in mind that Mr Van Beurden is ultimately responsible.
Looking at the guidance over fighting corrupt practices, to my certain knowledge, Shell has been guilty on almost all counts. Ask the Irish Shell supplier, OSSL. The principles were supposedly in operation for the whole period of the Corrib Gas Project, which was mired in corruption at the hands of Shell.
Whatever the status of the claimed Shell ethical code, irrespective of whose name appears, it is deeds, not words, which count.