From the Inside, Out: Why it’s people, not policies, that will drive change for the Oil and Gas industry
“Change is the law of life”. At least that’s what JFK believed way back in the early 1960s, when society appeared to be on the precipice of more great upheaval.
01 October 2020
Head of Marketing at Axora
Fast-forward to 2020 and the same ideal rings true – the uncertainty of a global pandemic and widespread acknowledgement of a climate crisis are just two major factors at play in the decision-making processes of politicians, business owners and global citizens alike.
In the context of the Oil and Gas industry, ‘change’ – technological, environmental, political – is all around us. Sustainability is no longer a buzzword to pay lip service to – it’s the cornerstone of survival strategies for everyone from the major industrial organisations to the supply chains that power them.
But what is the biggest driver of this change? Much of what we (rightly) think about when we discuss this is around digitalisation, legislative changes, or growing pressure from activists and the media, factors that influence the industry from the outside. What we often tend to overlook is the people from within that are driving cultural shifts that are truly revolutionising the way the industry operates.
For Rob Bresler, Technical Director at Ditto Sustainability and Chartered Waste Manager, it’s a factor that has become impossible to ignore. For more than a decade, Ditto has been utilising software and technology to provide the industry at large with greater, more informed sustainability knowledge.
“What we’re seeing today is a generational shift. Now, employees want to work for companies that are making positive movements around sustainability. Information is more accessible than ever; it isn’t just governments or the media that expect transparency from Oil and Gas companies, it’s their employees, too.”
There is a growing belief that changes traditionally forced through by government legislation are now being pushed for by internal stakeholders at a rate previously unseen before. As Charlie Lewis, BP’s Director of Technology, mentioned in another of our Innovation Leaders interviews, Oil and Gas companies are typically “extremely slow” at adopting wholesale change, but Bresler sees this dynamic shifting already.
“If you look at the major companies in the industry – BP, Shell, Total – you’ll see that they’re beginning to cut ties with lobbying groups that were historically opposed to methane production, for example. Where possible, organisations no longer want to be tied into poor practice. Awareness is going up, and it’s really changing the outlook of the industry from the inside”.
So what is spurring on this attitudinal shift? For Bresler, it begins with the people on the ground:
“Generally speaking, awareness of the planet’s environmental challenges is greater than it was two decades ago, but that’s only part of the story.
“Now, we live in a world where employees themselves want to work for companies that are on the right side of history – and this is something that is brought on by a huge increase in access to information. A lot of this is brought on by digitalisation. The information we have access to now is real-time, rather than just annual reports, something that helps these opportunities for change to grow much faster.”
This access to information is empowering for both employee and employer. Organisations are forced to become more transparent in the way they operate and, as a result manage to attract – and retain – the type of talent that are helping this pace of change continue.
“The feeling of being able to impart positive change on an industry is a hugely attractive factor for people across the workforce. Sustainability agendas matter, as do new approaches to ethical behaviour – but it’s also about feeling valued, and being able to develop key skills in the process. The Oil and Gas industry is getting a lot better at doing this, and the results are beginning to show.”
Naturally, company culture as a metric is typically difficult to measure, but the results Bresler mentions are visible in other areas, too. Empowered, well-trained employees mean that introducing new technologies to aid internal operating systems becomes easier. In turn, the access to new data streams – and improving the quality of data in existing ones – creates new efficiencies, whilst improving productivity in the process.
As a result, employees feel empowered to enact these incremental changes – whether cultural, strategic, or technological – in ways that may not have been so accessible previously. People in the industry now have (or will soon have) access to the digital tools they need to do their jobs better and, on the other side, companies are becoming better equipped in providing the right training to help them use them.
“The market is changing”, says Bresler, “and the direction of travel is only going one way.” The workforce across the industry know this, and the decisions that are being made are reflecting this. Change, after all, is the law of life. Once attitudes shift, progress follows.
This article is a part of our Innovation Leaders in sustainability series. For further articles, valuable insights and a look into sustainability solutions, visit our Innovation Leaders page here.