Chesapeake Energy partnered with the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday on a workplace improvement program that both organizations hope will only enhance their already strong reputations for individual and community respect.
CEO Action's 'Check Your Blind Spots Unconscious Bias Tour' parked its bus on the Chesapeake campus Wednesday morning. The bus was on OSU's campus in Stillwater Tuesday, will be at Sonic headquarters in downtown OKC Thursday, and in Indiana next week.
The bus features a variety of audio-visual and virtual reality stations to help people understand that that their neighbors and co-workers may perceive actions and circumstances very differently, and that even the most sensitive among us likely bring some biases to the table.
"And this is just a really good reminder of all the different ways that that [bias] can come out," said Christine Berney, OKC Thunder V.P. for Community Relations, "and the ways that you can be aware and combat that."
Management for both the Thunder and for Chesapeake saw the activity is a way to be, not only better community partners, but better companies.
"We're driven for every single employee to be at their best for Chesapeake," said Doug Lawler, Chesapeake Energy CEO, "and being at your best means that we value your differences."
CEO Lawler says Chesapeake itself is in good shape right now.
"We are stronger today than we ever have been, operationally and financially," Lawler stated, in one-on-one interview.
Lawler is particularly enthusiastic about the company's February acquisition, for $4 billion, of WildHorse Resource Development and its 420,000 acres in the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. Hes says this will provide the company with significant oil inventory for years to come, give better balance to Chesapeake's asset portfolio. and makes a strong statement about the company's health.
"A $4 billion acquisition at this point in time," Lawler remarked, "should speak to the quality of the underlying business."
And while Chesapeake stock struggles to stay above $3.00, Lawler believes investors will come around.
"We've been in the trench, along with a lot of other companies the past few years," noted Lawler, "but we continue to make the improvements necessary to be a top quartile performing E and P company."
Lawler took control of Chesapeake in June, 2013, two months after the ouster of co-founder Aubrey McLendon and the company drowning in debt. Nearly six years later, Lawler says there is still work to do, in terms of fixing Chesapeake's balance sheet. But he says the company is stable, strong and not going anywhere.
"I'm happy to be here, the company's happy to be here," said Lawler, "and partnering with the Thunder in this CEO pledge and the Unconscious Bias Tour is, I think, a reflection of our commitment to the community."
In partnering to bring the tour to campus Wednesday, both Lawler and Thunder CEO Clay Bennett signed a pledge to, quote, "check my bias, speak up for others and show up for all."