Nowadays requirements of society are a priority for many organizations. Expectations of society define the elements of social responsibility which are due to change over time as a result of change in the society’s concerns.
As sustainable development is about the economic, social and environmental goals common to all people, it can be used as a way of summing up the broader expectations of society that need to be taken into account by organizations seeking to act responsibly.
Oil &Gas activities take place in different environments (e.g. offshore, jungle, desert, arctic, etc.) and face variable challenges (e.g. sensitive areas, protected areas, isolated communities, etc.). Hence this industry deals with a set of specific risks and opportunities which could significantly impact societies, the environment and associated economic activities. Incorporating the Social Responsibility concept into business practices can play a significant role in management of major risks and opportunities.
To gain an understanding of how the industry manages social responsibility aspects a sample group of major companies have been selected for this study from the top 10 of "2012 Fortune Global 500 list" (Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Sinopec, CNPC, Chevron and ConocoPhillips) plus Total and Repsol. The study has been undertaken based on the available information on the webpages of the companies and the latest published reports on social responsibility and/or sustainable development.
These companies do not approach in a same way the incorporation of social responsibility aspects into their business, and do not even report their performance similarly but mostly consider Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guideline and "Oil and Gas Industry Voluntary Guidance on Sustainability Reporting" by the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues (IPIECA), the American Petroleum Institute (API) and International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) for reporting their performance.
Considering the indicators of IPIECA/API/OGP and GRI guidelines it is worthwhile to develop a management system based on the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle in order to identify Social Responsibility aspects of the business, assess the risks/opportunities and define control/recovery measures. Then to continue by implementing the measures, monitoring the performance and conducting regular reviews to achieve continual improvement.
A specific Social Responsibility Index developed by international bodies in the petroleum sector would help to compare these companies and develop positive competition among them. Resulting eventually in improve Social Responsibility and sustainable development performance in the industry.