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Supporting Women’s Career Advancement

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis

This book documents the progress that managerial and professional women have made in advancing their careers, and the challenges and opportunities that remain. In the context of increasing numbers of women entering the workplace and indeed pursuing professional and managerial careers, it examines why so few women occupy the top positions in corporations.
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Chapter 14: Shell Oil Company US: the 2004 Catalyst award winner for diversity initiatives

Leslie Mays, Jacey Graham and Susan Vinnicombe


Leslie Mays, Jacey Graham and Susan Vinnicombe STRATEGIC APPROACH OR INITIATIVE An effective diversity initiative requires vision, leadership commitment, alignment with corporate business objectives, employee involvement and ownership, accountability for goal achievement and continuous improvement. Shell’s diversity initiative in the US was crafted with these success factors in mind. It is designed to achieve the diversity vision shared by all Shell businesses operating in the United States: ‘SHELL U.S. will value and leverage DIVERSITY in order to become a model of an INCLUSIVE working environment’ (Leslie Mays). About Shell • • • • • • • the third largest oil major; sixth largest company; made up of five major businesses; operates in 145 countries; directly employs 115,000 staff + 285,000 contractors; largest expatriate population (7400); reported over $9.4 billion net income (2002); the Shell Pectin is one of the three most recognized brands worldwide. Work on transforming the Shell culture began in the mid-1990s, on the back of two significant events, which played out on the world stage. At that time, these events marked a real low point for Shell in terms of its reputation, and caused Shell to deeply re-think its role and responsibilities. 313 314 Company initiatives for advancing women The two events were the Greenpeace campaign against Shell’s disposal of the Brent Spar storage facility in the North Sea, which resulted in furious public reaction toward Shell, closely followed by another controversial incident which alleged Shell’s complicity in the execution of the Ogoni activist and his colleagues in Nigeria. When one...

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