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Wake-up call for the world

Release date:
3 June 2021
The tragic events of last year have brought racial injustice to the forefront of the world’s conscience. Now, as bp publishes its first diversity, equity & inclusion report, we talk to the man leading the charge for greater equity for all groups at bp
🕒 3 min read | 📖 Feature

Growing up in the southern part of America, Mark Crawford says he has seen his fair share of injustice: “From a young age, my heart has always been open to those who live in the margins. That exposure has given me the passion and the drive to get to where I am today and to help those most vulnerable in our communities.”


Mark has worked for bp for 20 years as assistant general counsel and has now added the responsibility as bp’s first senior vice president of global diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).


It was the deaths last year of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor that deeply impacted him and has now lit a fire in his conviction to drive further change at bp.  


As bp publishes its first DE&I report, we talk to him. 


It’s been a year since bp launched its US and UK frameworks for action, which are focused on racial equity. What has happened since then?   

The death of George Floyd was an inflection point for so many companies, focusing them on what they were doing to challenge the racial injustices society presented. bp responded with US and UK frameworks for action, which focus on equity for ethnic minorities and other under-represented communities. We committed to being more transparent, take accountability, and to really focus on developing black and ethnic minority talent.


Following that, we wanted to make a statement of intent and to be held accountable. I believe the only way we can make progress is by setting goals and tracking our performance against them and that’s where our new diversity, equity and inclusion report comes in. 


So why add equity now, what does equity mean for bp? 

Historically, we used the term equality, but that didn’t help employees from underrepresented communities. Equity recognizes the unique needs of individuals and gives them what they require to be successful and equal in the workplace. Equity acknowledges everyone’s differences and is about being upfront and thoughtful at the start, as we develop solutions with the needs of everyone in mind. 


Aligned to our new focus on equity, we have set a new aspiration to reach gender parity for our top 120 leadership roles by 2025. We are also rolling out a new ethnic minority talent programme, focused on development with equity in mind. The programme will be tailored to the unique development of the individual, giving them an individualized journey. 


And we will use the report to show our progress and keep track of our aims. The report shows that bp has a long way to go to create a workforce that is reflective of the diversity within the communities in which we live and work.


However, I’m proud that we are being transparent  – we are among the first of our peers to show this data and the action we’re taking. I also appreciate the fact that we are on a journey – we’ve won awards for our work on diversity and inclusion, but we are still striving to be and do better. I’m expecting sustainable progress as we put the time, resources and attention on this area. And, we will hold ourselves accountable.


“Equity acknowledges everyone’s differences and is about being upfront and thoughtful at the start.”
Mark Crawford, SVP of DE&I


What interventions will really make a difference?

To be honest, there is no shortage of initiatives and proposed interventions and it’s important to be thoughtful about those we choose to implement. I believe it starts with being transparent. This is the first time we have published the data, and we are trying to be intentional with how we use it. So, we will be guided by the data in selecting interventions. 


With that said, we’re planning to cast a wider net when it comes to attracting new talent to ensure that we get a more diverse talent pool. We need to look for talent in non-traditional places, which is why we’re creating partnerships with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the US and we’re looking to create similar partnerships with organizations that represent diverse talent in other jurisdictions.  


Additionally, we will be thoughtful about redefining what a qualified skillset is for open roles and focus on those qualifications, so that we don’t unintentionally exclude people from diverse backgrounds.


“2020 was the wake-up call the world needed and a catalyst for where we are today.”


Why is it so important?

2020 was the wake-up call the world needed and a catalyst for where we are today. The groundswell of energy we saw against racial injustice led to the two frameworks for action – and now we’re taking the next steps on our journey to be better.


Equity allows us to keep the conversation going. We are recognizing the needs of not just our employees but our customers and suppliers, too. 

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