Few years ago, a CSR report released by an oil company sounded like an oxymoron. Even later on when these reports became more common, it still looked to many people like a greenwashing attempt. After all, can a company really show it cares about the environment and stakeholders when its core business is oil production? I was hoping Chevron’s 2011 CSR report would prove this assumption to be wrong and that the “bad guys are trying to be better.” Is it too much to ask in 2012?
Apparently yes, although to be honest, there is no simple answer of yes or no to this question. While it does look like Chevron is making some progress, these are mostly baby steps, and when you’re one of the largest oil companies in the world, baby steps might not be enough. The problem starts with the general tone of the report which is positive to an almost ridiculous degree. Now, to be fair, almost every CSR report is very positive, but a growing number of companies understand that reports that only include good news are not trustworthy and therefore try to maintain some balance (see Unilever and Timberland, for example).
Yet, in this case it seems like Chevron didn’t manage to create a balance, providing almost only good news. Don’t get me wrong – Chevron has numerous achievements to be proud of, like reduced flaring and venting in operations by 33 percent since 2003 or continuing its strong workforce safety performance in 2011. But in too many parts of the report, the positive information is either presented in a biased way or is missing some important parts.
Take for example one of the report’s highlights – investments of over $200 million “to support community programs around the world, with a focus on health, education and economic development.” It sounds very impressive and this money supports very important programs like a global action plan to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV or the education of thousands of children and adults in developing countries.
However Chevron doesn’t mention that its profits for 2011 were $26.9 billion – in other words, those investments represent less than 1 percent of Chevron’s profits. Now it looks a little bit less impressive, right? Another example is the fact that Chevron highlights its commitment to respecting global human rights. The company writes that it “began global implementation of its Human Rights Policy to foster greater awareness of human rights issues throughout the company and enhance capabilities to manage them.
The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index gave Chevron a 100 percent rating for the seventh consecutive year.” This is a very important issue, especially in the energy sector, and therefore it is disappointing to see that Chevron talks only about its achievements, yet doesn’t disclose its battle against the ruling against the company fordumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This is an important human rights case and the fact that it is not mentioned even once in the report makes Chevron’s human rights achievements somewhat less credible.
The absence of any mention to the company’s legal battle against the ruling also damages the credibility of the report in terms of stakeholder engagement. First, it indicates that Chevron is not fully transparent and shares only information it feels comfortable with. Second, it brings up questions about the company’s real commitment to stakeholders. Can we really believe a statement like “human rights wherever we operate is grounded in The Chevron Way, which describes our vision and values,” when the company doesn’t disclose its position on the most important human rights issue it deals with right now?
One more issue is the significance Chevron gives to its environmental impacts in the report. Although Chevron is a large GHG emitter and John Watson, Chevron’s chairman and CEO identifies environmental stewardship (“our means of reducing our impact on our operating environments”) as one of the three areas that is in the heart of Chevron’s work, this issue is barely mentioned in the report and can be found only almost at the end.
There also seems to be a dissonance between statements Chevron makes and the results it reports. Chevron declares in the report that “we are taking significant steps to address greenhouse gases (GHGs)…We made a long-term commitment to improve energy efficiency in our day-to-day activities, which will help us manage our carbon emissions.”
Still, the results show very little progress – total GHG emissions decreased by less than 1 percent since 2007 (however there was a 5 percent reduction in Scope 3 emissions compared to 2010). In terms of GHG emissions intensity, the company, which indicates greater efficiency, actually did worse in 2011 with increased GHG emissions intensity per 1,000 barrels both upstream and downstream the value chain.
If Chevron wants to make the most out of its CSR reports, it needs to be more transparent and provide information in a way that stakeholders can trust. Then, it will be actually easier for the company to gain support for the progress it makes. We’ll have to wait for next year to see if Chevron listens to our advice, or continues to just paint a rosy picture of its operations.
03affordable energy is a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. Our company’s value drive us to provide that energy responsibly while protecting the enviroment and working with our partners to strengthen communities. because our success is tied to the success of our communities. Chevron contributes to the economic and social well-being of people in the countries where we operate because we recognize the deep interdependence of healthy businesses and healthy societies.
Wherever we are, we strive to be a good neighbor, sharing the concerns of our communities and dedicating our capabilities, resources and people to creating a better future. We have invested more than $1 billion since 2006 to fund initiatives that foster economic stability and improve the quality of life in communities around the world. Chevron partners with host governments, nongovernmental organizations and aid agencies to assess and understand local needs and the reasons behind them. We work with our partners to devise programs that will help improve health, support education and grow local economies.
Economic DevelopmentWe invest in improving the quality of life for our employees and neighbors by growing local economies, creating jobs, supporting small businesses, and promoting economic empowerment for women.
HealthBecause healthy people can create healthy societies, we work to improve access to preventive care and to strengthen health care systems.
EducationWe are committed to improving access to quality education, a critical element in the development of communities. We help train teachers and support science, technology, engineering and math education.
Economic DevelopmentPeople everywhere crave economic opportunities that will help them achieve stability and prosperity. Chevron fosters this goal by investing in programs that promote self-sufficiency, job growth and economic development. We start by assessing what local communities need, then take action to help remove barriers to economic growth. Through our social investment, as well as our local purchases and hiring, we work to increase job opportunities and grow local economies. We also focus on training people so that they can compete for better, higher-paying jobs that will support the trainees and their families.
what we’re doingPromoting Small EnterpriseSmall and medium-size businesses drive economic growth in any community. Helping to develop these businesses contributes to the overall prosperity of the communities where we work. We help lift entrepreneurs by supporting business development and incubator programs, funding job skills training, and providing access to credit and markets. In the United States, Chevron supports economic development and job creation through partnerships with groups like Opportunity Fund and Inner City Advisors.
With our support, these organizations are able to increase resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Many of Chevron’s economic development projects focus on promoting equality and economic empowerment for women. We partner with local nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations to provide microloans, financial education and job training. We believe that when women are empowered, whole families see the benefits, and we think those benefits can have positive effects upon future generations.
HEALTHFor many people, getting and staying healthy is the first step to escaping poverty. And when communities are healthy, they’re better able to build long-term prosperity for all. At Chevron, we’re committed to using our resources—human, financial and technological—to support education and access to quality health care. We’ve made prevention of HIV/AIDS a major focus of our efforts. WHAT WE’RE DOING
Partnering to Eliminate HIV/AIDSIn Africa, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women, increasing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of the disease and threatening communities. In response, Chevron has made the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Angola, Nigeria and South Africa one of our priorities. We partner with governments and global, national and local organizations to strengthen health systems, create greater HIV/AIDS awareness, reduce the stigma associated with the disease, and provide access to testing and treatment. Working to Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission
In Angola and Nigeria, our workplace Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program creates a culture that encourages HIV testing and treatment, fights the stigma associated with the disease, and provides comprehensive medical care for employees and their dependents. Through PMTCT, Chevron has achieved remarkable impact: For eight years in Angola and 12 years in Nigeria, Chevron has had no reports of mother-to-child HIV transmission among our employees or their qualified dependents. Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
In 2008, Chevron invested $30 million over three years to become the inaugural Corporate Champion of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Of our total investment, $20 million was dedicated to HIV/AIDS programs. This investment has helped support programs in Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand. In addition, Chevron has directed a total of $25 million between 2011 and 2013 to the U.S. Fund for the Global Fund, a U.S. nonprofit established to encourage individuals, corporations and charities to provide support for the mission of the Global Fund.
The U.S. Fund for the Global Fund is using this contribution to support the Global Fund’s HIV/AIDS grants in Angola, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam. In June 2011, Chevron joined UNAIDS, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and other leading world groups in pledging $20 million to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015 and help keep mothers alive. New AIDS Partnerships
In July 2012, we launched new partnerships in Nigeria with Pact, mothers2mothers and the Business Leadership Council. Through these partnerships, we will help strengthen Nigeria’s Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV delivery model, lay the foundation for establishing a Mentor Mother program and build the capacity of Bayelsa State civil society organizations to increase HIV education, promote voluntary counseling and testing, and reduce stigma. Providing Pediatric Health Care
We also partner with Baylor College of Medicine and the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) at Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest university-based program in the world dedicated to improving the lives of HIV-infected children. BIPAI’s Global Health Corps Program provides life-saving pediatric health care, treatment and training to the most medically underserved populations in Africa. Our five-year, $6 million agreement supports the recruitment and training of several American physicians each year to expand the program’s focus into Angola and Liberia. Fighting Sickle Cell Anemia
Chevron is providing $4 million over four years for the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative. Chevron partnered with the Republic of Angola, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in 2011 to create Angola’s first comprehensive program to screen and treat newborns for sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that causes susceptibility to infection, hemolytic anemia, sporadic blockage of blood vessels and organ damage. In Africa, no universal screening program for newborns exists.
The program began testing in July 2011 at two large maternity hospitals in Luanda, which each have 50 to 100 births per day. Over 18 months, the pilot program screened more than 33,000 babies, resulting in approximately 7,000 testing positive for the sickle cell trait.
EDUCATIONIf people and communities are to thrive, nothing is more important than education and job training. That’s why Chevron invests in schools and teachers. We focus on improving instruction in the key subjects of science, technology, engineering and math and on helping provide the vocational training that can lead directly to good-paying jobs. Those investments don’t just help the communities in which we operate – they help us, too. Tomorrow’s Chevron engineers are today’s schoolchildren. WHAT WE’RE DOING
Many of Chevron’s efforts to improve education are focused in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). We partner with Project Lead the Way, one of the leading providers of STEM curricula for middle and high school students in the United States.
Our contributions are helping the organization, which currently reaches 400,000 students, expand in areas of California, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas where Chevron has significant operations. Our funds have started or expanded engineering programs at 45 schools in California. We also have invested in more than 5,000 hours of teacher training and contributed to the education of nearly 54,000 students.