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BP ‘should be doing more’ to help black South Africans

January 2002

BP could do more to help post-apartheid black empowerment initiatives in South Africa, a stakeholder review has suggested.

The review, based on dozens of detailed interviews with employee representatives, non-governmental organizations, government officials and suppliers, found that most were positive about the general ethical conduct of BP, which employs 1,300 people in South Africa.

But there was ‘significantly less’ confidence in its relationships with employees, the main cause of concern being a perceived lack of progress on affirmative action policies.

The consultancy Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which carried out the interviews for BP, said most stakeholders appeared to view the firm as socially responsible, ‘but also questioned whether the company is aware of, and committed to, the extent of change that many stakeholders would like to see’.

ERM’s commentary within a BP ‘location report’ on South Africa states that stakeholders felt the company needed to create more black business partners.

However, BP says it is making progress in this area. BP Southern Africa recently gave 25 per cent shareholder voting rights and seats on the board to two ‘black empowerment partners’ – the Mineworkers Investment Company, owned by the National Union of Mineworkers, and WDB Investment Holdings, owned by the Women’s Development Banking Group.

It also says non-white dealers now operate 30 per cent of BP retail service stations. It has set a target of ten additional sites each year for the next four years.

The South African government wants 25 per cent representation of non-whites in the ownership, management or control of oil companies operating in the country within ten years.

ERM’s commentary also says NGOs were concerned about BP’s apparent preference for sponsoring, rather than becoming actively involved in, community projects.




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