Trust is an expectation that something agreed or said in the past will be delivered today and in the future.

That’s the nub of the current disagreement between bp pensioners and bp. Over 60,000 bp pensioners have given skills, knowledge and time to bp in exchange for a remuneration package with an inflation-proof pension (funds permitting) at its heart. Few if any, ever doubted that bp would deliver that promised pension. However..

The actions of the current bp leadership in not honouring this agreement has brought the issue of trust to the fore. Why are bp so closed to resolving bp pensioners’ concerns? Why are they consistently fobbing the pensioners off with a series of what feels like half-truths?

From the bp pensioner perspective, bp have arguably taken a series of rather unfortunate missteps, none of which instil confidence and all of which serve to erode trust.
For example:

  1. This bp CEO is the first to decline a discretionary pension increase.
  2. All explanations given to-date by bp have systematically been dismantled and no longer used in their argument.
  3. The initial denial that the bp pension scheme was subject to discussions affecting its future only for media reports to emerge confirming the Fund was in talks with insurers.
  4. The refusal by bp leadership to engage with bp pension campaign representatives.
  5. Advising bp pensioners who may be subsequently suffering hardship to approach the bp benevolent fund. This is akin to telling bp pensioners to go to the food bank.
  6. The claim that social media postings by a small number of the bp pensioners having stymied any future engagement. (Unusual that the CEO cannot cope with a few frustrated pensioners venting-off).
  7. BP raise the share dividend by 10% and announce a share buy-back after claiming there were no funds available for pensions.

Individually these actions cast bp in a negative light. Collectively they fall well short of the standards bp has set itself in its code of conduct, “To be a trusted company”. Being on the receiving end of these missteps as they are, it’s not difficult to appreciate why disillusioned bp pensioners have lost a significant level of trust in the company.

The lack of any acceptable explanation and the wall of silence that bp has erected has fuelled increasing distrust and with that suspicions have turned into speculation about bp’s underlying agenda and the possible motives behind their disinterest in their pensioners’ concerns. Suddenly everything is being questioned and anything is possible.

It is a mistake to ignore loss of trust with any important stakeholder group. Should the bp leadership become too complacent about the growing distrust among bp pensioners and allow this to continue unchecked, there is a risk that it will seep down to more levels within the organisation and affect other things. Then it could become a much bigger issue. Loss of trust simply put, isn’t good for business.