As we enter week three, it’s time for oil and gas leaders and employees to swing into public view—not just on your own company’s issues, but as partners in response to our massive societal upheaval. Some already are, and it’s impressive.
I got to participate firsthand in 2013 when Colorado’s oil and gas industry responded to massive regional flooding. In days we raised $2.3M and mobilized small armies of workers with shovels and pickups filled with diapers to support our communities in need.
Today we need to draw on that spirit and take a leadership role. We must transcend politics and geography, getting out in front as company partners and individual representatives of the oil and gas industry – giving, supporting, helping.
The industry is in a massive economic crisis – and so is travel, hospitality, restaurants … well pretty much everyone. Two weeks ago, we could have argued that our price collapse and resulting fiscal damage was more acute; today we cannot. The world is not experiencing a stock- and oil-price travesty; we are united in experiencing a massive natural disaster on an unprecedented scale. One calling for our industry’s visibility and leadership.
From here on out, companies need to focus on tragedy response, not quietly executing their capital and workforce reductions.
The critical mistakes not to make:
- Stop having a public presence. Much of the industry went silent post oil-price collapse. Companies understandably turned inward to make sense of what was happening and develop plans to weather the storm. That quiet has started to resonate with the echo of lifeless, empty halls.
- Focus on bottom line only. We’ve heard from many companies on their capital reduction plans. Of course, companies need to do his planning. But as civic leaders, you need to address the symbolic rising floodwaters of a health crisis and economic upheaval happening all around you as well.
- Succumb to analysis paralysis. We don’t know if we are down and out for two weeks or two years – so leave a couple of your people crunching on scenarios and focus most of your energy on facing outward leadership.
Seize the day: We will look back on life before COVID-19 and after COVID-19. We recommend that companies and industry employees give back out there. We recommend that you invest in social capital. You have an unprecedented opportunity to mitigate future social risk by investing in your community relationships. Our thoughts for you:
- If you haven’t started, it’s not too late. We will be in a state of isolated, suspended animation for at least the next month.
- Not sure what to say? Say “Hello,” and “I’m checking in to see how the world looks to you. I want to stay in touch and get through this together.”
- Food donations and distributions are a top tier priority in most communities. This is something we know how to help with.
- Remote or social distancing volunteerism is vital: If you can get your home-bound employees coordinated in these efforts, do it! It will give your teams something to share, focus on, and celebrate.
- Communicate broadly, proactively, and positively with each of your key stakeholder groups. Tell them you’re there and what you’re doing.
- Elected officials are overwhelmed by health care logistics. This week we recommend that you offer them resources by asking them: How can we best help?
It is happening! Williams Companies donated $1M to Covid-19 response and community recovery. Crusoe Energy and Mesa Natural Gas Solutions have donated computing power to the search for vaccines, and Virginia Natural Gas along with parent company Southern Company Gas has supported numerous local causes in a quick succession of responses.
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