Hard to imagine pairing these two words together: corporation and integrity. Or how about this - a giant corporation learning to create three profit lines: People, Environment, Shareholders. Which profit line must come first to create the best bottom line profit? Smart person that you are - yes, it's people.
I intended to write this post several weeks ago, when I first read what I share below. Another good intention bites the dust, as I allow life and work to consume me. Overdue? Yes. Still relevant? Yes.
Now for some context. I've been reading what I consider a brilliant book on the next level of human evolution - The Translucent Revolution, by Arjuna Ardagh. Bare-bones definition - "translucence" allows us, if we choose, to awaken out of the ego-based trance of fear, doubt, and anxiety.
People become translucent when they wake up from their contracted self-preoccupation and feel themselves bigger than their personal story. They discover they are both no one in particular and at the same time part of everything around them. From this recognition of connectedness, translucent people become more humorous, more honest, and less fearful. Their lives get reorganized around service and contribution.
Imagine this . . . organizations that display translucent qualities, moving from a focus on fear, lack, and profit at all costs, to one of creativity, inspiration, honesty. Organizations that reorganize around service and contribution, to their employees, to society and the environment, and to their shareholders.
Ardagh's book discusses in detail companies that have begun reorienting around translucent qualities. He contends that there are thousands of conscious businesses throughout the US and Europe who "compete well with the global giants, because they offer something that economies of scale can never purchase on the cheap: heartfelt integrity."
Imagine my shock when I read that BP was included in this group. This same BP that recently created the worst environmental disaster in history through negligence and focus on profit at all costs.
Rewind to thirteen years ago when stress levels at BP were so high that company performance was dropping. Bruce Cryer, CEO of HeartMath, was called in to bring in the HeartMath approach. Briefly defined, HeartMath offers simple techniques and technologies (such as biofeedback) to reduce stress and improve health and performance by shifting attention from mind to heart. Shifting attention from mind to heart alters perceptions and behavior away from fear and distrust.
Love overcomes fear. . . Increasingly, science demonstrates that coming from a place of love, appreciation, and kindness in business significantly improves performance rather than coming from a place of fear and lack and scarcity. That's very powerful. - Anders Ferguson
In 1997 the entire board of BP went through the HeartMath program, and from there it rolled down the ranks over the next three years. Over time BP began to see the connection between individual well-being and sustainable organizational performance.
But really, how can we be expected to believe that oil companies that plunder land and sea for obscene profits embrace translucent ideas that put people first?
So wondered CEO Cryer of HeartMath. And even he was surprised at the level of benevolence tucked inside BP:
In fact, there are good people everywhere, dealing with the same pressures and anxieties and personal-growth challenges in oil companies as anywhere else. They aren't necessarily only interested in digging black stuff out of the earth. That's been an important part of our approach, to recognize the humanity, the goodness in people everywhere, to recognize that people are the sum total of what they've learned. Obviously, as a planet we've got to learn some new stuff, some new intelligence and new ways of thinking and being and feeling.
What concrete actions ensued from BP's work with HeartMath? This question would best be answered by an insider! Since I don't have access to that info, I offer the following. The Translucent Revolution briefly mentions the following: They changed their name to BP, with the slogan, "Beyond Petroleum." They powered all their European-based gas stations, as well as office buildings and refineries, with solar roof panels, making them the largest user of solar energy in the world. They also initiated wind projects in Europe, and are actively exploring the use of hydrogen.
Interestingly, the book goes on to note how honest and responsible BP's "Sustainability Report" for 2003 was: BP acknowledges how it is still a major contributor to world pollution and lists the damage it creates, along with a road map away from the role of polluter and damager, and offers a vision of energy sustainability.
I googled BP CEOs and discover that a number of them have come and gone since bringing HeartMath into BP back in 1997-2000. I wonder how much of that change initiative remains within the organization. I hope for our sakes that key individuals who embody the change remain to influence BP towards integrity.
I wonder how true to their word BP remains when the clean up costs and lost employment continue beyond the first $20 billion escrowed. I wonder if we dare give BP the benefit of the doubt. The alternative is to continue to demonize them.
Am I hopelessly naive to expect such integrity in this disaster recovery effort? Can BP keep their "spirit in gear" and do the right thing? If you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who works at high levels at BP, tell them we're counting on them to hold the vision and DO THE RIGHT THING.