A handful of companies disclose policy positions and related details, but overall transparency remains limited

The highest-ranked companies make their policy positions relatively clear, but there is a lack of detailed disclosure on how they engage with policymakers and to what extent companies might offer conflicting policy advice through third parties. Countries have different legal requirements and this often influences how companies disclose political engagement activities, rather than them proactively doing so.

On its corporate website, British American Tobacco Plc (BAT) publishes links to specific policy areas, documenting its positions. Similarly, Japan Tobacco Inc (JTI) publishes a webpage titled ‘Our views on regulations’, where it documents its positions by topic. It also discloses regulatory submissions by geography in chronological order, along with the scientific reports it used to support them.

Companies should be more transparent about how their positions are communicated to policymakers and to what extent they might offer conflicting policy advice through third parties, including in countries where disclosure requirements are not as stringent.

Several companies list the third parties and associations that they work with, but do not highlight the specifics of these organizations’ interactions with government officials, nor for the most part their own direct activities. Legislation around this varies by geography, with the US and EU having more stringent regulations such as filing disclosures with the US Senate Lobbying Database or EU Transparency Register. While companies file their relevant activities in these regions, the majority do not disclose this on their own platforms, nor do they comprehensively reference their activities in other geographies.

Altria Group Inc (Altria), a company operating exclusively in the US, reveals relatively detailed information on its corporate website. On its website, it publishes a repository of all policy-related interactions, including political contributions and memberships, as well as overall company policies for managing interactions. It also includes several policy positions. While it is it mandatory for it to file these activities with federal and state agencies and have them featured on those agencies’ websites, Altria voluntarily includes its filings on its own website to make the information more easily accessible.

Companies should be more transparent about how their positions are communicated to policymakers and to what extent they might offer conflicting policy advice through third parties, including in countries where disclosure requirements are not as stringent.

For a complete list of sources and references, download the full Index Ranking report.

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