BP (British Petroleum): A Lesson Learned on Social Responsibility

Tragedies continue to effect individuals and families worldwide. While some maybe natural disasters, others are man-made. This is evident in the BP Gulf Coast oil spill, a preventable man-made disaster. From April to July 2010, more than 185 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf Coast, (Deep Water, 2010). This devastated the natural environment including wildlife and the way of life for Gulf Coast communities. As a corporate empire representing the largest oil company in the world, BP must be practice responsible business ethics. This is the lesson learned for BP. It is also the lesson learned for government and enterprise in regards to necessary precautions against safety. Safety becomes a key theme in preventable disasters. By implementing strategies in safety BP can improve social responsibility, ethical strategies, and environmental impact of crude oil extraction and refinery.

The Gulf Coast spill sparked renewed interest in corporate responsibility, ethics, and government control. This is because the disaster was caused by lack of mandated safety protocols in the industry. It can be seen in the explosion occurred while extracting crude oil hundreds of feet below the sea floor. It happened for two specific reasons, pressure systems and cement slorry. When maintaining safety, specifically in this environment, systems should always be under constant supervision. This includes documentation, checking and rechecking safety systems regularly for quality control. Had the organization implemented such safety measures, it would significant reduce risks to human life and the environment. The disaster addresses the changes needed in businesses and their relationship with the environment and greater society. Corporations must be held accountable when they act without ethical responsibility. To do government must intervene with policy and business audit geared on safety and regulation.

Safety is a key strategy to address issues of social and ethical responsibility. Not only should BP improve safety practices, the government should monitor these safety practices. It works to reduce risks and minimize threats. This is not only critical to prevent accidents it is also a fundamental strategy for business continuity. The crude oil that spilled into the Gulf and ruined the environment represents a substantial loss in oil supply and profits. In addition, BP lost workers, machinery, merchandise, integrity, and public respect. Taking simple measures to improve safety and reduce threats to continuity is suggested by professionals and scholars worldwide. However, BP failed to do this. They provide a classic example of what can happen when to organizations lose sight of safety, ethics, and social responsibility.

Safety at BP was flawed for years. Even before the Gulf Coast spill there were warning signs towards BP failure in environmental, employee, and corporate safety. The two proceeding BP oil spills should have caught government interest; particularly in the US where both these events occurred. Each major accident that hit the company was a failure in safety and maintenance, (Corporate Social, 2007). In 2006 was the Prudhoe Bay oil spill in Alaska. The previous year, in 2005a Texas explosion killed 15 people. After each event BP promised to improve safety. Yet time and again this resulted in tragedy. The organization faced heavy fines. They ultimately paid out $370 million to the state of Texas and $1.25 billion in the Gulf Coast spill so far, (Corporate Social, 2007).  The government could learn a lesson from this tragedy. The government should better monitor the practices of large corporations, specifically areas of safety that threatens lives.

Simply measures toward safety can resolve the issue of man-made disasters. This is observed in BP and their business of crude oil extraction. They drill deep into the Earth’s foundation to pump out this resource, even when the oil is miles beneath the sea. The process of extraction has an immediately effect to the environment. It causes oil spills and explosions that cost millions in clean-up and resources. The drive for oil extraction is based on supply and demand and the gears of capitalism. It has been debated since the industrial revolution and bears to question the cost of safety, human life, and the environment. Today there a strong social push for capitalist enterprise to adapt social responsibility and ethics into company policy and culture. All the while, the government allows corporations to operate despite their risky behavior and limited safety.  Continued dangers of oil extraction along with BP’s history should encourage government to develop safety policy for corporations. This is because the “only big government is big enough to keep big business from rubbing its notes at the public welfare, health and safety”, (Brazile, 2012).

BP made blatant failures in corporate safety. As a result, BP should be held socially responsible. Social responsibility is not a consequence. It is defined as “the obligations of the firm to society”, (Smith, 2003). In other words= big business should do good for the community the same way that the community is good to big business. Society is big business, they fund and finance enterprises. Business needs the public to spend on products and services, or else the business would expire. Therefore, social responsibility includes the members of the public and the environment. It encourages business to practice integrity when working with the public and this include safety. There is also evidence that suggest that some consumers will pay a premium for corporate social responsibility”, (Smith, 2003). Giving back to the environment and community becomes something that can improve a business. It builds trust from the consumer but also builds on the brand, reputation and consumer loyalty. To do this ethics and ethical behavior should become part of company culture. This includes strategies towards safety. Safety must become a way of doing things in the organization to be enforced by all staff and employees. By keeping people safe and using good morals, companies like BP can make a better place for employees, wildlife, and society.

In conclusion, BP can address issues of ethics and social reasonability by maintaining safety. Safety is key social reasonability. It will reduce environmental impact and threats to profitability. BP lost billions. They organization lost billions in product, resources, and profit. Implementing simple strategies in safety, the disaster would not have happened. BP actions and inactions, “resulted from negligence and avarice; profit first and responsibility second”, (Brazile, 2012). Tragedies do occur and a less can be learned from this the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Safety should be a number one concern for all enterprises as part of their social reasonability to society at large.




  1. Brazile, D. (2012, April 20). Three lessons linger from bp oil spill. CNN News. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/20/opinion/brazile-earth-day-bp/index.html
  1. Corporate social responsibility-companies in news bp. (2007, October 2). Retrieved from  http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/CSRfiles/bp.html
  1. Deepwater horizon oil spill. (2010, October 22). Retrieved from  http://www.slideshare.net/mengkiat/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-5539058
  1. Smith, C. (2003). Corporate social responsibility: Not whether,but how?. London School of Business,701(3), Retrieved from    http://www.london.edu/facultyandresearch/research/docs/03-701.pdf

About Russia Robinson

I use my writing talents, and skills I’ve learned through academics and experience, to benefit the greater good of society. Conducting research, writing articles, essays, and blogging, I give informative information on a variety of topics and issues that affect society. I also write creative works like children’s books, short stories, poems, and a novel in progress. I earned a BA in English creative writing and American literature from San Francisco State and graduate studies in Technical Writing at Kennesaw State University. Through my career in education and mental health I have spent more than 10 years’ helping young people succeed. I am a certifiable Language Arts teacher, working in education, social services, and mental health. Interested in my writing services? Feel free to contact me via email.
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