Evidence of this can be seen with the company being slow to provide information, on the total amounts of oil that are leaking into the ocean and the various restrictions that they have placed on media coverage. (Lack of Transparency Afflicts Oil Spill Response 2010) This problematic, because when there are restrictions and the company is slow to release information, it appears as if they have something to hide. At which point, the public will become furious with the company, from their perceived unwillingness to cooperate. This could have negative political fallout, as various Congressional Committees and regulators will demand all documents relating to the spill. Once this take place, it sets the stage for an ugly showdown with Congress and the White House. Where, they could seek to force the company to disclose more documents and engage in criminal investigations, as these actions give the appearance that executives are hiding the truth. The research indicates that once these kinds of situations occur, the company needs to cooperate fully, by having a transparent and open process. This will help the public and government officials to see that the company is not trying to hide anything, reducing the damage to BP's image. What this shows, is that if the company wants to improve their image they must dramatically increase transparency and cooperate with officials. Otherwise, the image that the company has something to hide; will be engrained in the minds of the general public and regulators.
Another aspect that is hurting the overall image of BP is: their slow response in paying claims and establishing a special fund to compensate victims. Not long ago, BP agreed to establish a special fund of $20 billion to pay compensation claims. The problem is that executives took these actions, weeks after the spill occurred and after being pushed by the White House to do so. This problematic, because it shows that the executives of the company do not care about what happens in the Gulf, by not setting up a way to compensate victims quickly. (BP Establishes a $20 Billion Claims Fund 2010) the research shows that those companies that establish a fund to help clean up spills early are: viewed more favorably by the general public. Where, this has commonly been established by a number of different industries, to help pay for any kind of clean up. In some case, various industry trade groups will establish special clean up funds in advance, to help pay for the effects of possible spills or environmental damage. What this shows, is that BP needs to establish a fund that will provide enough money to protect the environment and compensate residents. The $20 billion is good start, but far more needs to be done voluntarily by the company (instead of at the urging of the White House.) at which point, they should take the lead and call for an industry wide fund, to protect against oil spills in the future. These actions would help to show that company is doing everything; that it can to rectify the situation, by helping to mitigate the fall out from this incident as much as possible.
Clearly, the oil spill involving the Deep Water Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico is having a dramatic impact upon the image of the BP. Where, the various actions or lack of actions taken by the company and key executives, have caused many to view the company as aloof. Once this takes place, it means that the anger will continue to grow, as the overall amounts of frustration will boil over. At which point, it means that it is only a matter of time until the company could face a flood of lawsuits and the possibility, that key executives could face criminal charges. In many ways one could argue, that their unfavorable public image is contributing to the situation. To reverse these effects, the company needs to engage in a bold new strategy that will involve the elements of: supporting international standards for drilling, transparency and taking the lead in establishing a fund to compensate victims. If BP can begin to implement these changes as soon as possible, they can create a shift in the image that public has of the company. Where, they will no longer be viewed as the greedy corporation that does not care about what happens; as they are seen as a responsible member of the business community. Part of this responsibility is admitting wrong doing and rectifying the situation, as effectively as possible. Over the course of time, this will help to limit the political / image related issues that the company is facing. Otherwise, BP could face the possibility of financial ruin, as the total amounts of claims could rise in the ten of trillions of dollars and there is the chance that the company could be indicted on criminal charges. This is why the company must move quickly to restore its image, for it does not, it could be facing a number of regulatory and legal challenges over the long-term.
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