Strategy

The CEO Poll: BP and Obama tarred by spill

CEOs say both BP and the White House have handled the oil spill poorly.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

Canadian CEOs think both BP and the White House failed in their response to the devastating oil spill that continues to pour 800,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day.

In a recent Compas Inc. poll, business leaders rated both the oil company and the United States government on a 100-point performance scale to determine the success of their crisis management strategies. BP scored a mean of only 41 for its efforts since the blowout on April 20. The White House did only slightly better, with a mean of 46.

Executives also offered suggestions on how both the U.S. government and BP might improve their public relations and crisis management. “BP needs to increase visibility and let people see that they are doing everything possible to handle this problem,” said one respondent.

As for the White House, CEOs feel the U.S. government should take a strong stance on the issue. “They must hold BP totally responsible for both eliminating the problem permanently, and for all damages,” one respondent said. Those polled also believe that President Barack Obama must ensure systems and regulations are in place to prevent this type of accident from happening in the future.

The leaders weighed in on who will suffer the most as a result of the spill. The most harm, according to respondents, will fall on the gulf fisheries and tourism industries, giving that factor a mean of 6.5 on a 7-point agreement scale. Respondents said companies involved in exploration and production in sensitive areas of North America will also be hurt, with a mean of 6.1. BP’s own profitability will suffer, said respondents, giving it a mean of 5.6, and the White House will also be harmed, receiving a mean of 5.2.

Canadian CEOs agreed that the BP disaster will lead to much tougher regulation of the entire North American oil extraction industry, with a mean of 6 on the 7-point agreement scale. “Disasters lead to improvement in safety and techniques,” said one executive. “The entire industry will become more conscious and aware of safety and develop better systems to address potential disasters.”