Home » BP staff must reveal intimate relationships or risk getting sacked

BP staff must reveal intimate relationships or risk getting sacked

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BP staff must now disclose all intimate relationships with co-workers – or risk getting sacked, writes Jessica Clark.

In a major shake-up of the oil giant’s code of conduct after its former boss was dismissed over office affairs last year, all workplace liaisons have to be reported to the board.

But the company has said the updated rules do not affect new chief executive Murray Auchincloss‘ relationship with fellow BP high-flyer Julia Emanuele.

Previously, BP’s 90,000-strong workforce were obliged to disclose relationships with colleagues only if they felt that there could be a conflict of interest.

The revised policy also bans anyone being in a couple with someone they “directly or indirectly manage” – and breaking the rules could result in dismissal.

Meanwhile, senior leaders – numbering around 4,500 executives – must report any intimate relationships that have occurred at work over the past three years to reflect the “influence” that leaders have over employees. Senior figures have three months to draw up a list.

Mr Auchincloss and Ms Emanuele – who is the chief operating officer of the lucrative crude trading division – are exempted from the new rules as they have already made disclosures to the board and appropriate mitigation was taken.

Mr Auchincloss notified the board of the relationship in July 2020, when he was hired as finance chief.

When he took over as chief executive last September, the board confirmed Mr Auchincloss was in a “longstanding relationship and his partner also works in BP”.

The company said at the time that the office romance had “been fully and appropriately disclosed within BP, including through his recruitment as chief financial officer almost four years ago”.

The changes come after the board – led by chairman Helge Lund – last year found former chief executive Bernard Looney guilty of serious misconduct.

Mr Looney had disclosed four relationships with colleagues before additional affairs came to light. The Irish businessman was stripped of £32m in pay and bonuses after his dismissal.

Dan Parker, senior associate at law firm Forsters, said: “Removing the discretion for individuals to decide whether their relationship poses a conflict of interest is potentially wise.

“It does, in turn, put pressure to define what is considered a reportable “relationship” and there will no doubt still be relationships which are not disclosed.”

Of BP’s four most recent CEOs, three have left in disgrace.

Former boss Lord Browne resigned in 2007 after lying to a court to hide details about his relationship with another man.

The changes come after the board – led by chairman Helge Lund – last year found former chief executive Bernard Looney guilty of serious misconduct. (Photo by Niall Carson – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

His successor Tony Hayward was forced to quit after just three years in the wake of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon spill.

BP said the review of workplace relationship rules was scheduled for this year as it was last updated in 2018, and the changes came into effect at the beginning of June.

The new policy says: “The policy requires conflicts of interest to be disclosed, recorded and – where appropriate – mitigated.

“Familial and intimate relationships at work can constitute a conflict of interest.”

Photo: BP CEO Murray Auchincloss. (Photo by RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images)

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