Corporate Spotlight: Shell Oil Company

By: Lauren Hunt, Esq.

Shell Oil Company is a proud member of NAMWOLF and shares NAMWOLF’s vision of promoting a diverse workforce and supporting supplier diversity. Cynthia Bivins, Senior Legal Counsel, and Michael Thomas, Legal Counsel, together with Deborah Lewis, a partner at Blackwell Burke, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are chairing the NAMWOLF Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas ~ September 14, 2016 – September 17, 2016.

Company overview

Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future.

The world needs more energy

By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to grow to 9 billion people, up from about 7 billion today. That is equivalent to adding another China and India to the planet. At the same time, the world’s remaining supplies of oil and natural gas are increasingly difficult to find, unlock and produce. Factors include remote environments, complex geologies or even deeper water. So if we are going to meet rising demand, we are going to need energy from all sources. Undoubtedly some of that energy will come from renewable sources such as the wind and the sun. With a truly exceptional effort, as much as 30% of the world’s energy could come from renewables by 2050. As the energy system evolves, hydrocarbons will continue to play a vital role in the coming decades, providing much-needed energy to fuel transport, in particular aviation, and make everyday products from plastics to steel.

Diversity & Inclusion at Shell

“The embedding of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in our business plans will help ensure we reach our goal of becoming the most competitive and innovative energy company. We must ensure our energy portfolio is attractive to both partners and customers. We cannot achieve this without a diverse workforce that reflects the diversity of our partners, customers and the countries in which we operate,” said Ben van Beurden, CEO Royal Dutch Shell. “It is therefore vitally important that we do not view diversity and inclusion as a ‘nice to do’ or an ‘add on’ to business as usual. It must be at the heart of our business plans in the same way that safety is,” he added.

What do we mean by D&I?

A diverse workforce and an inclusive environment that respects and nurtures different people is a source of strength for improving our business performance. At Shell, diversity means all the ways we differ. It includes visible differences such as age, gender, race, and physical appearance; as well as underlying differences such as thought styles, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and education.

Inclusion means a workplace where differences are valued; where everyone has the opportunity to develop skills and talents consistent with our values and business objectives. The aim is to create an organization where all people feel involved, respected and connected, where the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives are harnessed to create business value.

A culture of inclusion means that differences are valued and encouraged to foster creativity and innovation. It does not mean that we promote one group over another. Our selection decisions are and will remain meritocracy based. We believe it encourages people to think differently and “say no to no”, to think and act in a creative, persistent and problem solving way.

Employee Network Groups

Shell employees have always formed casual groups, but in the late 1990s the company announced a Group Diversity Vision and strategy. The Shell Employee Network Groups wore born and quickly spread across the globe. There are over 75 networks in 30 countries where Shell operates. How do we know these groups work? In 1997 women held only 4% of senior leadership positions. By 2015, that figure was over 19%. Over the last couple of years, Shell has received external recognition for its D&I efforts across multiple geographic regions.

Gender balance means business

Women account for 80% of all consumer purchases (source: Boston Consulting Group, 2010), so why wouldn’t you include them in your decision making process? Yet, there will be a shortage of 40 million highly skilled workers by 2030. An equal employment rate for women would close almost all the gap. (Source: The World of Work, McKinsey 2012)

At Shell, we have a business case for including other groups of people as well. Our innovative enABLE employee network group reaches out to persons with disabilities and their allies. Nearly 1 in 10 workers have some form a disability, and as workers are now working longer, companies need to be flexible to maintain productivity. Shell also reaches out to its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees. Being fully “out at work” correlates with a 30% productivity benefit, and a 70% higher retention rates for LGBT staff. Our core values mean we do not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is about ensuring respect for people and providing psychological safety for LGBT staff. Our approach is about creating awareness and ensuring respect rather than changing beliefs. Consider the “Diversity Dividend.” What’s the likelihood that companies in the top quartile for diversity financially outperform those in the bottom quartile? Gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely. (source: McKinsey Diversity Matters, 2015)

Diverse talent is a given for successful companies to compete; however, diversity alone does not drive business performance. To be fully effective, a balanced team needs strong leaders who create the conditions for inclusive behaviors.

Supplier Diversity

Shell also supports diversity in our suppliers. For Shell, Supplier Diversity means working to make the profile of our supply chain reflect the profile of the communities in which we live and work. It means encouraging these businesses to grow into the kind of suppliers we will need to meet the energy needs of the future. Our energy goals for the future require the best resources we can gather from a broad spectrum of innovative, service-oriented businesses. Many of these businesses are owned by members of minority groups and by women. In 2015 Shell made a new commitment to increase Supplier Diversity spend by 40% over the next two years. We will be aggressively pursuing the most qualified diverse businesses to either become new suppliers to Shell, or build their capacity to win more Shell business. Supplier Diversity is a tangible example of how we implement one of our Shell General Business Principles, which seeks ways to contribute directly or indirectly to the general wellbeing of the communities within which we work.

Bringing it all together

Business performance benefits from diverse talent bringing different perspectives and ideas. We believe that diverse teams — with inclusive leadership — can unleash business value to ensure a healthy, high performing organization. As an international company, Diversity & Inclusion is a must have business imperative. The global talent pool is more diverse than ever and we need to continue to attract and retain the best. Finally, just as our customers and stakeholders are increasingly diverse, we must understand their needs and their cultures.