“Sexual playthings”: Former employees say Anadarko’s Denver office had toxic culture

“Sexual playthings”: Former employees say Anadarko’s Denver office had cyanogenic culture

Soon after Robin Olsen left her job in the Denver office of Anadarko crude oil corporation., she drafted a letter with her lawyer’s help.

“Anadarko has a culture of treating women as sexual playthings who are present at work simply for men’s sexual gratification,” it aforementioned.

Olsen’s 2017 letter to Anadarko went on to describe a cyanogenic culture in the satellite office, where 550 of the company’s 4,700 workers work, and where she aforementioned sexual harassment wasn’t chastened and women who complained about it were.

Anadarko, which in agreement last week to be sold to Chevron corporation. for $33 billion, smartly disputes Olsen’s characterizations of the company.

Even as the #MeToo movement — and the backlash against it — rolls through the corridors of power, the energy industry has mostly at large the scandals that have ensnared dozens of prominent men in Hollywood, Si valley, Washington and beyond.

Interviews with six former workers of Anadarko’s Denver office paint a elaborate picture of a place where life can be particularly difficult for women. The ex-workers spoke on condition of anonymity because they still have dealings with Anadarko or aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Allegations include loutish behavior, so much as the supervisor who joked that women seeking to advance their careers should be prepared to provide oral sex.

They include talk about scrawny careers, how the women became stuck in their jobs piece the men they complained about affected up the corporate ladder. About how men were promoted piece women with comparable experience weren’t — so much as the company announcing that the three male graduates of a leadership-training seminar would get better jobs than the three females in the same class.

Olsen’s letter to the company alleges that two high-level executives had sexual relationships with subordinates, an account corroborated in an testimony, reviewed by Bloomberg, from Olsen’s former supervisor, Christopher Castilian.

Women’s complaints changed the company. After the behavior was exposed, Anadarko aforementioned it launched a formal sexual-harassment training program.

Woodlands, Texas-based Anadarko’s Denver office oversees commerce trading operations in Colorado and Wyoming, where nearly half the company’s onshore land area is located.

For its part, Chevron “has a zero-tolerance policy, and any form of work discrimination — gender, racial or otherwise — is unacceptable,” interpreter Kent Robertson aforementioned in an email.

In the oil and gas industry, just one of every five workers is female. At Anadarko, less than one-quarter of workers worldwide are female. Women account for 2 percentage of industry chief executives, compared with 5 percentage for S&P 500 companies. One of Anadarko’s six executive officers is a woman.

“We have our problems in our industry, whether it’s the hankie panky you hear about, the inappropriateness you hear about after hours, or whatever,” aforementioned Katie Mehnert, the founder of women’s energy organization Pink Petro who has worked at Royal Dutch Shell and BP. “But the culture is going to evolve faster now, because you can’t hide thing. There aren’t four walls any longer . There’s just a glass door.”

Two of the former Anadarko workers spoke of a supervisor, known for jocose that female workers should provide oral sex to get better jobs, who was promoted piece the women who complained about him were passed over and eventually left the company.

One woman aforementioned her supervisor gave her derisive nicknames, publicly joked about her presumed sexual activity and cut her annual bonus when she complained.

Jennifer Brice, an Anadarko interpreter, aforementioned in a statement to Bloomberg that the company has taken steps to address complaints, including launching sexual-harassment and unconscious-bias training, increasing awareness of Anadarko’s 24-hour anonymous hotline, and strengthening its policy on revenge.

“We strive to create a work environment that is comprehensive for all of our workers, and have acted on the concerns we’ve detected,” Brice aforementioned. “Each case involving specific claims and concerns was investigated once received.”

The company has reinforced its zero-tolerance policy for revenge, and over the last year has trained more than 2,900 of its workers in a program called “Speaking Up Creates Change,” she aforementioned.

The woman who represented the leadership-training class — where the company announced the three male graduates would get better jobs than the three females — aforementioned she complained to human resources. She aforementioned she received a bump in pay but not a change in job title. After that, she aforementioned, she was passed over for promotions.

“Pay equity is thing we take very seriously, and our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics explicitly states our commitment to diversity in recruiting, hiring, developing, compensating and promoting workers,” aforementioned Brice, the Anadarko interpreter.

Anadarko’s general counsel annually reviews pay practices and provides proposal on avoiding discrimination on the basis of gender, Brice aforementioned. “Management is habitually reminded and trained on the Code’s requirement to make decisions about pay, promotions and other employment-related actions without regard to gender or any other protected category.”

Olsen’s letter alleges that Brad Holly, who oversaw the company’s Rocky Mountain possession, and Scott Moore, who unattended marketing, carried on sexual relationships with female subordinates. Olsen aforementioned she often detected the executives having sex with the women behind closed doors in the office, the letter aforementioned. When she complained, Holly and Moore stopped-up speaking to her and gave away plum assignments that were part of her job description that could’ve led to career advancement, according to the letter.

The claims of inappropriate relationships involving Denver-based officers of the company “were promptly and thoroughly investigated,” Brice aforementioned. “The individuals documented are no longer with the company.”

After the complaints about Moore’s behavior, the company held sexual-harassment training in the Denver office, former workers aforementioned. The seminar gave real-world examples of workers who had violated the company’s policies on hostile work environments.

Brice aforementioned Anadarko has reinforced its policies “to generally forbid any officer from piquant in an intimate relationship with any worker, regardless of the coverage relationship.”

Olsen, who signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of her settlement with the company, aforementioned she resolved her differences with Anadarko. She declined to comment further.

The women allegedly involved in the trysts left the company. Anadarko gave two promotions each to Holly and Moore inside two years of the women’s departures.

Moore, who left the company in 2018, declined to comment, expression personnel matters should be addressed by Anadarko.

“I have always been a strong advocate for equality, inclusion and mentorship and am proud of my record for advancing the careers of talented professionals in our industry,” Holly aforementioned in a statement to Bloomberg. “I certainly never engaged in any discriminatory or retaliatory conduct, and any allegations that I engaged in inappropriate behavior in the office are categorically false.”

One woman represented gender problems in the Denver office to Holly in an email reviewed by Bloomberg. She warned Holly they would lead to an exodus of talent.

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“While I do not recall the specific email documented,” Holly aforementioned, “I believe that clear protocols and processes are vital to an just and respectful work environment and would have referred any reports of discrimination or revenge to the Human Resources department for investigation.”

In May 2017, after Olsen left the company, Holly was promoted to executive vice president of the Rockies Region, the highest-ranking executive in the Denver office. He left the company five months later.

After Holly’s departure, Anadarko’s chief executive officer, Al Walker, visited the Denver office. He asked workers at a town-hall-style meeting if any of them had experienced revenge for complaining about inappropriate conduct. That’s when at least two women told the CEO their stories, the women aforementioned.

Brice aforementioned that Anadarko investigated all cases brought to Walker’s attention and that steps were taken to address the concerns raised.

Holly is now the chairman, president and CEO of Denver-based Whiting crude oil corporation.

Whiting declined to comment.

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