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The week that shook the oil industry to its core

It’s been an extraordinary week.

In a major coup for people and the planet, Exxon Mobil shareholders voted two new directors onto their board this week to ensure the oil giant does more to tackle climate change and re-direct its business toward a sustainable future.

In the same week two other giants of the corporate world were brought to their knees by those determined to make a difference. Chevron Corporation, the owners of Texaco and Noble Energy, was forced to adopt a resolution by its shareholders to reduce its carbon emissions. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, British-Dutch oil and gas multinational Shell was ordered by a Dutch court to lower its greenhouse gasses by 45%.

What we are witnessing is an ongoing battle for the future of businesses not just being fought in the oil industry but right across the corporate landscape. It’s a battle between the old guard defenders of the status quo and a fast-growing vanguard of investors, consumers and employees tired of listening to the self-serving motives of short-term focused business executives and financial opportunists. Time is quickly running out for those that believe that profit comes before people and the planet.

Sustainability is moving to the CORE of business strategy -- which is exactly where it needs to be in the 21st century. Treating CRS/ESG as a ‘nice to have’, a bolt-on afterthought or a ‘social licence to operate’ is no longer going to cut it.

Transitioning and re-organising your entire business around sustainability* is no doubt a daunting prospect, especially if you don’t know how to do it. But be assured it can be done and tried and tested tools, technologies and approaches developed over many years exist to ensure change is not only possible but practical. Change is deniable but inevitable. Those that grasp the nettle will not only ensure that their business survives the coming decade but thrives in a new way that meets the needs, wants and desires of all stakeholders.

*Environmental sustainability, societal sustainability, human sustainability, economic sustainability.

Neil Gaught is the conceiver of Single Organizing Idea and the author of two books, CORE and the CORE Playbook

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