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Withering Assessment of Shell’s Business Principles by Paddy Briggs

Comment by retired Shell executive *Paddy Briggs on the recent article: Withering Assessments of Shell’s Business Integrity by Bill Campbell and Bruce Culpepper

“I think Mr Campbell’s comment regarding “Business Principles” is entirely valid. I worked for a time in Shell in the business sphere which developed the (then) Group’s approach to the demands for “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSD). I took it seriously as did many of my colleagues. The “Business Principles” were a part of what we delivered. It was endorsed by the Committee of Managing Directors (CMD) and became Group policy. What was lacking, however, was consistency in application. All too often, when push came to shove, the Principles were bent to allow the pragmatic pursuit of commercial goals. Shell’s competitors generally did not feel the need to promote their CSD or did so in a more limited way. Shell in some instances wanted it both ways. They wanted to be seen as corporately responsible, but they also wanted commercial progress. The pursuit of profit. Nothing wrong with the latter of course, it’s what business is about. But to do this at the cost of corporate responsibility at the same time as promoting your unique commitment to CSD reeks of hypocrisy”

*Paddy Briggs worked for the Oil Company Shell for 37 years, retiring in 2002. He has a monthly column in the pensions magazine Pensions Age (“Pensions People”) and was for four years one of two pensioner-elected Trustee Directors of the £13 billion Shell Contributory Pension Fund.

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