Adl Consulting is an advisory, public affairs and institutional communication firm specialized in lobbying activities, advocacy and change management. Since 2012 we have been fostering data-based decision-making and promoting Digital Lobbying methodology within the field.
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The success of a company largely depends on the political and social context in which it operates. Unfortunately, the complexities brought about by current health, economic and environmental crises have contributed to the creation of an uncertain atmosphere affecting every area of society. Such events, in addition to two other variables, globalization and digitization, form an unclear picture of what context companies exist in. To increase the clarity surrounding their business, companies have begun implementing diverse strategies, many of which include Corporate Social Responsibility principles.
Almost all of the top 250 companies in the 2019 Fortune 500 ranking provide some form of sustainability reporting. The data demonstrates how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become common practice for corporations intending to report to stakeholders not only their economic performances, but their environmental and social performances too.
Although this increase in sustainability reporting represents a step forward in regards to Corporate Citizenship – namely a concrete commitment to behave ethically towards one’s communities – it is not enough in our current socio-political context. Only less than half of the analysed companies considered including their governance risks (e.g. corruption, anti-competitive behaviour, and political contributions) within their reporting, demonstrating that disclosing politically related information remains overall uncommon.
FROM CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP TO CPR
In the article, “Corporate Citizenship: improving transparency and reputation by communicating value to stakeholders” (2019), the theme of Corporate Citizenship was introduced as a change in companies’ approach towards government institutions in order to become increasingly systemic and multi-sectoral. The motive and ultimate goal of this relationship is Reputation. By communicating to stakeholders more valuable information about the company’s positioning activities in government institutions, it is possible to achieve an important competitive advantage, that allows companies to characterise their brand value and create an ethical and transparent plan for the company.
In this context, Corporate Political Responsibility becomes part of leadership’s medium to long-term plan to address future conflicts.
Due to the growing attention that governments and international organisations are paying to Corporate Political Responsibility (CPR), it is a topic within the public arena that concerns companies’ commitments to adopt ethical behaviour and to be responsible in their politically representative activity. In truth, companies have always tried to have a political impact both for the pursuit of their particular interest and for the generation of a greater collective well-being.
Some scholars in the field underline an ever-greater convergence between CSR and Public Affairs activities. Among them is Dott. Johannes Bohnen, expert in communication strategies, analysis and political campaigns. In his book “Corporate Political Responsibility: How Businesses Can Strengthen Democracy for Mutual Benefit” (2020), Dott. Bohnen demonstrates how businesses can become active in the political sphere in at least four areas (Figure 1).
In conclusion, it can be said that companies must assume political responsibility if they want to act de facto in a sustainable manner. In this sense, CPR represents an opportunity to assume a leadership role in promoting social responsibility and ethical commitment.
THE REPORT: TOWARDS A CORPORATE POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY
On May 25th 2023, in the grand setting of Palazzo Wedekind, Rome, we will present our report, “Corporate Political Responsibility: The New Frontier of Sustainable Business,” during the Forum Public Affairs, the communal Italian event for public and governmental communication, organized by Comunicazione Italiana and which this year named ADL as a Main Partner.
In the coming weeks, we will find out how the concept of CPR is cross-sectional to most industries, which will be the subject of discussion within the panels of the event.
BOHNEN, Johannes (2020), Corporate Political Responsibility. How Businesses Can Strengthen Democracy for Mutual Benefit”
FAVOTTO, Alvise e Kelly KOLLMAN (2021), Mixing business with politics: Does corporate social responsibility end where lobbying transparency begins?, «Regulation & Governance», 15 (2), 262-279
KPMG, (2020), Il tempo della sostenibilità. Gli ultimi trend sulla sostenibilità nel ‘Survey of Sustainability Reporting
LOCK, Irina e Peter SEELE (2016), Deliberative Lobbying? Toward a Noncontradiction of Corporate Political Activities and Corporate Social Responsibility?, «Journal of Management Inquiry», 25 (4), 415-430
Communication & Digital Lobbying Strategist presso Adl Consulting
Student Intern (Translation)