Transparency and integrity of lobbying: an update on the emerging CSR challenge
The twentieth edition of our Sustainability Focus.
Lobbying practices are gaining increasing stakeholder attention. Regulation is increasing, shareholders are demanding transparency, and the media is shining its light on unethical behaviour. Several companies have demonstrated very positive responses to stakeholders’ calls for action, however, the majority of companies in Vigeo’s rating universe continue to display a weak performance on the topic. Nevertheless, slight improvements have been witnessed between 2013 and 2015, largely attributable to the development of regulation and the progressive implementation of the European Transparency Register.
Companies failing to address the issue of responsible lobbying are facing increasing risks. Several companies have faced severe damage to their reputation over controversial lobbying, notably the pharmaceutical company Amgen following the publication of a front-page New York Times article highlighting its manipulation of the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ bill in the United States for its own benefit, just hours before the bill went to a vote. Moreover, many companies are coming under fire from shareholders to report transparently on lobbying budgets and strategies, in order to better understand the long-term threats and opportunities faced by companies. Companies which continue to perform weakly on the subject will progressively become more policed, if not by growing regulation then by stakeholders insisting on transparency and integrity.