Total at Work
Meet Adebola! He works in Paris as Legal Counsel on Ethics & Human Rights within the Total’s Civil Society Engagement/People and Social Responsibility Division.
“My role entails providing legal support to Total’s business segments and affiliates by assessing ethical and human rights risks and implementing dedicated policies & practices. I also contribute to the formulation and implementation of a business and human rights agenda for the Total Group and engage with our various external stakeholders including the wider business community, investors, trade unions, NGOs, the UN and other international organizations to explain Total’s business and human rights strategy. Ethics is core to my job at Total and respect for human rights is also one of Total’s key business principles.”
Adebola explains the kind of qualifications you need to do a job like this: “I hold a Master of Laws Degree in Petroleum Law & Policy from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee (Scotland, United Kingdom) and a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. I am a member of the Nigerian Bar, so I am a qualified barrister too.”
So, what does Adebola’s day-to-day working life involve? “My work involves some travel. This gives me the opportunity to contribute to managing complex ethics and human rights issues that may face our businesses from time to time in different countries across the world. It is always a delight and privilege to help our colleagues connect the vital link between business, ethics and human rights on the ground – once the connection is duly acknowledged and diligently addressed, it will usually result in a win-win for both the businesses and people affected by our activities.”
He adds, “My favorite part of the job is being able to contribute to Total’s widely-acknowledged efforts in respecting ethical principles and human rights in the countries where it has business activities. And my experience of working in different countries has been very enriching and interesting, both personally and professionally. It has exposed me to new cultures, new people, new perspectives and new possibilities!”
Apart from the right qualifications, what’s most important in order to be successful as a Legal Counsel for Total? Adebola says that what matters is, “integrity, passion, out-of-the-box thinking and creative innovation. It’s also vital to be able to really listen to your colleagues and other stakeholders, to be resilient and to be a team player. You have to be open-minded, hardworking, cultivate good interpersonal skills and be ready to relentlessly push the frontiers of knowledge and implementation in your chosen area.”
The Group is focused especially on 3 important areas relevant to its activities: Rights in the Workplace; Human Rights and Local Communities; and Human Rights and Security. Total emerged as N°1 Oil & Gas Major; N°3 in the Extractives Industry and N°7 across Industries (out of 98 companies) in the 2017 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) ranking exercise on corporate human rights performance. We also published in 2016 a dedicated Human Rights Report based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) Reporting Framework. Adebola outlines “It is work in progress for us as we continue to deepen the conversation internally, identify gaps and drive improvements where relevant. We also continue to share these principles and practices with our business relationships including our suppliers, business partners, NOCs etc. And we do not intend to rest on our oars.”