Why is this important?
Political influence has both a positive and negative impact on society. On the one hand, companies can contribute their expertise when political parameters are being developed which are beneficial for sustainable development (e.g. industry solutions when introducing sustainable technologies). Contributing ideas and concerns to the political process is entirely legitimate within a democracy. However, lobbying can stand in the way of the necessary developments if influence is exerted on political processes in ways which are opaque, subtle and one-sided. Doing business responsibly therefore also involves a company transparently communicating what political involvement it has and whether that involvement primarily promotes or hinders sustainable development.
What do the terms mean?
Political influence encompasses both an organisation’s financial and personal links with the field of politics. Here, financial influence relates to membership fee payments, contributions to governments and donations to political parties and politicians. Personal links occur first and foremost when key decision makers within a company move into politics or vice versa. Political influence also encompasses membership in interest groups and cooperation with the relevant lobby agencies, law firms, consultancy and PR firms, foundations and think tanks.
Event-driven company initiatives and membership of specific politically-active working groups such as the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles are likewise classified as political influence.
What needs to be borne in mind?
Please make reference to the following:
- All significant input relating to legislative procedures
- Key policy papers and recommendations.
- All lobby lists featuring representatives of your company.
- All material membership fees paid by your company.
- All the contributions made to governments.
- All material donations made to political parties or politicians.
Present this information separately for each country in which your company operates. Please also cover the relevant aspects if it is industry associations rather than your company that exert political influence. Particular relevance is attached to the membership fees for organisations that engage politically on behalf of their members, such as chambers of commerce and industry, retail associations and regional industry associations. Please bear in mind that legislative procedures are processes on which organisations could have an influence during the drafting of legislation, rather than legislation which is already in force and which affects an organisation.