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Bernard's note to bp staff on racial injustice

Release date:
1 June 2020
Our CEO Bernard Looney wrote to all staff amid the anguish and pain of events in the United States. Here is what he shared with our team: 
Dr Martin Luther King memorial

Image by csbwv from Pixabay.

Hello everyone

Like many of you, I am watching the impassioned protests on the streets of America with anguish and pain. The shocking videos of brutality are deeply upsetting, and the violence tearing up communities is disturbing. I hope it goes without saying, I absolutely condemn racial injustice in all forms.
I have received messages this weekend from employees, especially from African American colleagues. They are foremost in my mind right now. They are understandably disgusted and outraged – and many are afraid. Many of us share those same emotions. All around the world we are being reminded of the injustices so many people face in their daily lives. People are on the streets in America today, but this is not an issue just confined to America.
I want to be clear that bp works hard to be a diverse, inclusive, respectful workplace and that we will not tolerate any sort of discrimination or harassment – anywhere. If you experience it – call it
out. If you see it – call it out.

I want to help, and I know you will too. What can bp do?


First, we must come together as a diverse, caring community and acknowledge the pain that many Americans are feeling today. Our hearts go out to our many friends and colleagues there – and indeed to all Americans.    


Second, we can talk openly and honestly about what is going on and how it makes us really feel. I urge us all to listen to each other – maybe like we have never listened before. And we should be prepared to ask ourselves tough questions about how bp stacks up. Are we living by our values at all times? Are we doing everything we can to create truly inclusive and respectful workplaces? I spoke with Dave Lawler this weekend. I asked that in his new role as chairman & president of bp America he take a fresh look at how we are doing.      


Third, we must live our purpose. In February, our Net Zero ambition caught the headlines. But our purpose goes beyond that – it is about improving people’s lives. We are trying to do that through our response to the Covid-19 crisis, and in our desire to help the world “build back better”.    


What does “build back better” mean? It means restarting the global economy in a fairer way, and in a way that is more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. These are efforts aimed at trying to get to the root of deep inequities that exist in our society. If we could address some of the basics – like access to education – we might find ways to help heal some of these deep divisions once and for all. I want bp to be right there in the mix – trying to help where we can.     


It is who we are, and part of our history. Many of you are probably not aware, but bp was a major contributor to the building of the memorial in Washington, DC to the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Inscribed on the huge stone sculpture are several of Dr. King’s most famous quotes, including this one from his 1963 letter from the Birmingham, Alabama jail:     


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."    


To me, that quote captures why the scenes we have seen on the streets of America affect us all – no matter where we live. And it captures why we must all come together to listen, learn and try to address the root causes once and for all.      


Please stay safe, and let’s take care of each other,

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