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The Shell Oil Company Model Plan

This report has presented the critical elements and stages in the design and implementation of a comprehensive diversity initiative. A leader among corporate law departments and a principal participant in this best practices study was the Shell Oil Company U.S. Legal Services department led by Vice President and General Counsel Cathy Lamboley. Shell offers an excellent example of how to make a diversity plan work. Shell has taken its plan and converted it into a working document that incorporates all the components of a Model Diversity Plan as outlined in the preceding section.


The emphasis on diversity at Shell Oil Company is not new. In 1995, its then chief executive officer convened a strategic planning team, composed of leaders throughout the company, to discuss the direction Shell would take on diversity. Since this historic meeting, diversity has been positioned as a subset of the global business imperatives, and diversity goals have been a part of Shell’s strategic planning. Efforts to increase diversity in its employee base were institutionalized in the form of a company-wide Diversity Center that monitors and consults on the initiatives of each business unit.

The Diversity Center is a resource of recognized experts that assists all the business unit heads to design and implement the diversity plans and objectives for their units. Each business unit, including Legal Services, must fill out a diversity scorecard, which is prepared, administered and analyzed annually by the Diversity Center. The Diversity Center also collects, tracks and reports important data to the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer.

Blueprint for Success

Shell Oil Company’s diversity efforts start at the top. Since 1995, Shell has appointed several new leaders at the senior executive level, but the commitment to diversity has been unwavering. In 1999, president and chief executive officer Steve Miller wrote and distributed the U.S. Company’s strategic plan, called the “Blueprint for Success.” The Blueprint outlined the issues of importance that Shell’s business units would pursue. According to the Blueprint, Shell Oil in the United States would:

  1. deliver and be known for passionate customer service;
  2. be a model of diversity for corporate America;
  3. be an organization in which employees can reach their full potential;
  4. build a strong Shell identity and profile in the United States;
  5. achieve leading edge financial performance;
  6. be among the leaders in health, safety and environmental performance; and
  7. serve as a leading corporate citizen.

The representation and utilization of women and people of color at all levels of the company, including management and leadership roles, are top priorities within the Blueprint. The Blueprint calls for the business units to create written plans to follow the objectives that were laid out in the strategic plan and to create Diversity Councils to help them accomplish their diversity objectives.

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