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The right decision, made slowly

At the weekend Tory peer Lord Barker was under intense pressure to step down from the board of EN+, whose owners include oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

He fiddled about for a bit, tried the line that he felt a duty to stay and makes things better.

Then yesterday he quit.

Yesterday Shell was defending its “difficult” decision to buy Russian crude oil, in the face of jibes from Ukraine’s foreign minister that the company had blood on its hands.

Today, it stopped doing so, and apologised.

In both cases, these u-turns were predictable and indeed inevitable.

Which makes it hard to understand why they didn’t take the obvious route first, before they got roundly chastised by anyone who was paying attention.

From the outside the corporate world is very hard to understand sometimes. A well-read child could see that Shell’s original position would not hold.

Even if there are justifications for what it was doing (someone said that Shell has been forced into apologising for not breaching sanctions), the noise was plainly going to be too great to resist.

They were always going to measure the business cost vs the PR hit and decide the PR should win.

But they would have won, or lost a bit less, if they had just done what they were bound to do a couple of days sooner.

The corporate world increasingly presents itself as responsible, as having a purpose beyond making money. And then it has to be dragged kicking and screaming towards the right decision.

It is so undermining of everything else it might be doing which is to the good.

I don’t know why they do it.

Boris Johnson is ready to announce the first new round of North Sea exploration licences, says this from Greenpeace.

Those new licences will take on average 28 years to start production, it claims, which means they can’t be any sort of an answer to the present crisis.

“This is Boris Johnson’s moment of abject failure to rise to the challenge,” it says.

I’m not sure Greenpeace is right, but it is good at presenting its case.

See Press Release


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