Global Diversity and Inclusion at Royal Dutch Shell

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OCTOBER 23, 2012


Global Diversity and Inclusion at Royal Dutch Shell

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I am most grateful to Linda Cook for her many important contributions to the success of our company. Shell’s
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) capacity has risen by over 60% in the last five years, with more to come.
—Royal Dutch Shell’s former CEO Jeroen van der Veer.1
Peter Voser, CFO and soon-to-be CEO of the oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell (hereafter Shell) realized that the “optics” surrounding the composition of his just-announced Executive Committee (EC) were not good. It was May 27, 2009, and Voser was addressing 200 of Shell’s top managers in Berlin. His all-white, male, Swiss, American, and British eight-person team was a significant departure from that of his predecessor, Jeroen van der Veer. Absent were the two female members: Linda Cook, a 25 year veteran who had lost the battle to become CEO and whose track record in growing the firm’s LNG business had brought her wide recognition, and Roxanne Decyk, formerly Corporate Affairs director, who took on a new position as head of government relations in the United States. There were no Dutch members, strange for a firm headquartered in The Hague and founded in 1907 through the alliance of the oil company Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and the British Shell Transport and Trading Company.
Nor were there any Asian members—despite it being a major thrust of Shell’s strategic growth. (See
Exhibit 1 for the 2008 and 2009 ECs.) Voser worried that the new EC would be seen as a signal that he was moving away from Shell’s commitment to achieve a diversified workforce and an inclusive environment. Since the mid-1990s, there had been growing acceptance internally that the…...

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