Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Exxon: Being a Manly Man

 Were I not reading Steve Coll's gripping new  biography of Exxon, I would  not have not run across this gem, about the observation of an executive examining Exxon culture around 1990:
The executive was startled to discover at one point that the corporation's stop five leaders, all white males, were the fathers, combined of fourteen sons and zero daughters. 
"The mathematical probability that such a quirk had no basis in the corporation's social mores was low," Coll remarks drily. And quoting his "executive:" "'What is there in the culture here that promotes people with sons?'"  Actually, Coll has already suggested an answer:
Exxon recruited heavily from the petroleum engineering departments of the public universities of America’s South, Southwest, and Midwest. By locating its headquarters in Texas, the corporation placed itself in the landscape to which many of its long-tenured American employees belonged. Exxon maintained “kind of a 1950s southern religious culture,” said an executive who served on the corporation’s board of directors during the Raymond era. “They’re all engineers, mostly white males, mostly from the South.  .  .  . They shared a belief in the One Right Answer, that you would solve the equation and that would be the answer, and it didn’t need to be debated.”
--Coll, Steve (2012-05-01). Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power 
 (Kindle Locations 868-871). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition. 

Man, I wouldn't have lasted there five minutes.  No, strike that: the security alarms would have howled as I walked past the front door.

Afterthought:  Has it changed?  Dunno, haven't finished the book yet.

1 comment:

they call me trouble said...

Engineers are of a type. My neighborhood is filled with Raytheon employees and is, as far as I can tell, the only game in town if you are in the mood for an old fashioned fourth of July parade.