A stakeholder-inclusive approach is crucial for Big Oil's future

ExxonMobil's and TotalEnergies' different strategies on climate change show that an inclusive stewardship approach helps to future-proof company performance and build resilience

French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has taken a more inclusive stewardship approach by balancing profit-making with the needs of stakeholders, the society and the environment, says the writer, adding that its board and executives have been trans
French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has taken a more inclusive stewardship approach by balancing profit-making with the needs of stakeholders, the society and the environment, says the writer, adding that its board and executives have been transparent in discussing the firm's plans for tackling climate change and building clean energy capabilities to the public and shareholders.PHOTO: REUTERS

A few weeks ago, the corporate world was stunned when a small hedge fund called Engine No. 1 created upheaval in the oil and gas industry by leading a proxy fight to oust some of ExxonMobil's directors over the latter's dismissive approach towards climate change.

It came as no surprise that several key investors supported Engine No. 1's call to revolt. ExxonMobil had already gone from being the largest company globally, as recently as 2013, to being demoted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average last year. It lost three of its board members after shareholders voted in favour of directors who have experience and track record in business transformation and value creation.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2021, with the headline 'A stakeholder-inclusive approach is crucial for Big Oil's future'. Subscribe