Ousted | BP chief quits after revelations of past relationships with colleagues

BP chief quits after revelations of past relationships with colleagues

BP’s CEO Bernard Looney has resigned with immediate effect after less than four years in the oil major's top job for failing to fully disclose details of past personal relationships with colleagues, the company said.

Chief Financial Officer Murray Auchincloss will act as CEO on an interim basis, the company said.

Looney, 53, became CEO in February 2020 with a vow to reinvent the 114-year-old company, laying out ambitious plans for the British energy giant to achieve zero net emissions by 2050, and to invest billions in renewable and low-carbon power.

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Looney's surprise resignation came after allegations of personal relationships with company colleagues surfaced recently, prompting the company to launch an investigation.

That followed similar allegations the board investigated in May 2022. During that review, Looney disclosed "a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO."

No breach of the company's code of conduct was found at the time and the board was given assurances by Looney "regarding disclosure of past personal relationships, as well as his future behaviour."

CEOs in the spotlight over workplace relations

Looney joins other high-profile executives who have lost their jobs in recent years over accusations of improper conduct with employees.

In April 2023, NBCUniversal’s Chief Executive left the company after similar news emerged of an “inappropriate relationship” with a female employee.

Jeff Shell issued a statement to the workforce that read: “Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.”

He went on: “I am truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the relationship or what constituted ‘inappropriate’ conduct. However, CNN reports that the NBC employee involved in the relationship had filed a complaint against Shell.

The Confederation of British Industry’s director-general, Tony Danker, was ousted earlier this year following complaints into his behaviour towards CBI employees.

The news prompted several more women to come forward with similar accusations levelled at senior leaders within the CBI, including claims of attempted sexual assaults, explicit images being sent to young female staff and even a report of rape.

Following his dismissal, Danker said he was "truly sorry" that he had "unintentionally made a number of colleagues feel uncomfortable” but added: "I was nevertheless shocked to learn this morning that I had been dismissed from the CBI, instead of being invited to put my position forward as was originally confirmed. Many of the allegations against me have been distorted.”

In 2019, Warner Bros Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara resigned as one of Hollywood's most powerful studios investigated a report that he improperly helped an actress obtain roles at the studio.

And in 2018, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was sacked after having a consensual relationship with one of his employees.

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