Former BP boss Bernard Looney faces allegations he promoted women he was romantically involved with – a claim which reportedly contributed to his abrupt resignation last month.
The relationships occurred before he became chief executive in 2020, according to the Financial Times, but had not been disclosed to the company.
BP reportedly received allegations from an anonymous source last year about Looney’s personal relationships with company colleagues – reportedly numbering as many as four past relationships.
While the oil giant determined that no breach of its code of conduct was found, a second set of allegations earlier this year reopened the case.
Looney admitted to the board that he had not been “fully transparent” about his disclosures, prompting his exit.
The company’s code of conduct does not ban personal relationships; however, it warns staff about potential conflicts of interest such as “having an intimate relationship with someone whose pay, advancement or management you can influence”.
During his three-year stint as chief executive, Looney pushed to boost female representation at the highest levels of the company, with the oil and gas giant setting a goal of gender parity among its top 120 leaders by the middle of the decade.
BP last year confirmed the number of women in the company’s leadership had doubled – with six female vice-presidents outnumbering men.
Commenting at the time, Looney wrote: “It shows the best people are getting the roles they deserve. They weren’t appointed because they are women — they were appointed because they are the best.”
When approached for comment, BP told City A.M. it has no further comment on his resignation beyond the statement made following his departure on 12 September.
However, it confirmed the company follows “rigorous hiring and talent management processes” and that “promotions and appointments are not made solely at the behest of any single individual or executive”.
Looney was approached for comment by City A.M. but did not immediately respond.
BP’s chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss has since replaced Looney on an interim basis – with the company revealing in a public filing that Auchincloss is also in a relationship with someone working at the company but in his case it did not represent a breach of the company’s rules.
Kate Thomson, the company’s senior vice-president, finance for production and operations, has been promoted to interim chief financial officer to replace Auchincloss.
BP has not confirmed a timetable for replacing Looney.