Shell CEO to Address Employee Concerns Over Clean Energy Strategy
Posted 05/10/2023 23:08
Shell Plc's CEO, Wael Sawan, is set to meet with company employees later this month to discuss his clean energy strategy, amidst internal concerns about the decision to allocate a larger share of investments to fossil fuels.
Sawan's approach, which emphasizes shareholder returns and a renewed focus on the core oil and gas business, has drawn criticism from environmentalists. While many employees have supported this approach, some, particularly those in the Renewables and Energy Solutions division, are expressing resistance.
The CEO has invited staff to participate in a virtual meeting titled "A Conversation With Wael" on October 17, with the aim of discussing the opportunities and challenges Shell faces as it positions itself for success in the energy transition. Employees have been encouraged to share questions and comments on an internal forum ahead of the meeting.
Some employees have voiced concerns about Shell's approach, stating that the company's decision to follow its customers' lead is difficult to justify, especially to future generations. Others worry that recent asset sales align Shell more with the past than the future. Questions have also arisen about how Shell's strategy aligns with its own and the United Nations' climate goals.
While there are differing opinions among employees, Shell welcomes an open dialogue and acknowledges the passion and engagement of its staff regarding the energy transition and the company's role.
Sawan, who assumed the role of CEO earlier this year, has emphasized the need for a "fundamental culture shift" at Shell and a focus on capital allocation to regain investor confidence. The company remains committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Investors have responded positively to Sawan's strategy, narrowing the valuation gap between Shell and US peers Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. Shell is the best-performing among the five supermajors this year, with a return of about 15 percent including dividends.
However, an open letter from two staff members posted on an internal message board expressed concerns that the company was deviating from its ambition to lead in the energy transition. Job cuts, particularly in the low-carbon division, have also raised anxiety among employees.
Shell has assured that there will not be a widespread reduction in its workforce, beyond job losses associated with divestments. The company recently sold its home energy retail business in the UK and Germany, resulting in approximately 1,800 employees leaving for Octopus Energy Ltd.