Dear Tony Hayward: You Do Not Have Your Life Back

BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, centre, sits aboard his yacht Bob, during the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, Saturday June 19, 2010. The 50 nautical mile, clockwise circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, started Saturday with some hundreds of yachts taking part. In the past eight weeks, some millions of gallons of oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from a blown-out undersea well with BP being held responsible, and Hayward is thought to have enraged members of the U.S. Congress because he had few answers about the environmental disaster.(AP Photo / Chris Ison, PA) ** UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES ** Chris Ison

BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward sits aboard his yacht Bob, during the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race circumnavigating the Isle of Wight, Saturday, June 19, 2010.
AP/Chris Ison, PA
Dear Mr. Hayward,

Following your rope-a-dope, evasive testimony during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Thursday, you have offered the public more insight into your character — and the wisdom (sic) of your public relations advisors.

Understandably, after 60 days of dealing with the worst environmental disaster in American history (which continues to ravage the Gulf Coast's economy), the death of 11 rig workers, and the downward spiral of your company's assets and reputation, as well as having the U.S. government after your hide, you want to take a break, get a bit of your life back.

Fine. Watch the World Cup. Spend time with your family. Have a barbecue.

But don't participate in a yacht race on your 52-foot craft bought with oil money. It just sends the wrong message to the "small" people whose livelihoods have been wrecked by the millions of gallons of crude still leaking from your company's damaged well head.

Remember what your chairman of the board, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said to reporters in Washington on Wednesday:

"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Svanberg later apologized, offering that he spoke "clumsily." But your apologies are becoming increasingly hollow as you demonstrate a kind of arrogance, or tone-deafness, in your actions.

As Rep. Waxman admonished you during your testimony, "You're not taking responsibility, Mr. Hayward. ... You're kicking the can down the road."

In handing over day-to-day operations for the oil spill response and cleanup to BP's managing director Bob Dudley, you may have been kicked down the road.

But make no mistake: You do not have your life back, and you won't until the leak is plugged, the people of the Gulf have been made whole, and the environment restored. Remember, the job of the CEO is to share the glory and shoulder the blame.

Sincerely,

Dan Farber

  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

Comments