Our research into a company's politics is divided into 4 main areas: 

Anti-Social Finance

Some companies avoid paying tax but make huge profits. Others have been criticised for fixing prices, insider trading or paying bribes.

We also mark companies down for 'excessive director's pay' (over £1 million per annum) in this section because we think it's unethical for directors to receive such large payouts.


Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Payment of bribes or other corrupt practices

Company criticised for enforcing poor terms on small suppliers

Positive policy addressing an Anti-Social Finance issue

Criticism for irresponsible marketing of financial products

Price fixing Criticism for irresponsible marketing of gambling products

Providing tax haven services or facilities for other companies

Excessive directors' remuneration

Secondary criticism

Exploitative currency speculation

Self-disclosure of an incident in this category

Insider trading or dishonest share dealing

Subsidiaries in 2 or more tax havens

Mis-selling of products (non health related)

Tax avoidance Other publication is critical of transparency record

Third World debt involvement

Boycott Calls

Companies may have boycotts called against them for lots of different reasons. At Ethical Consumer, we report on all the boycotts we receive which have a registered headquarters, although we don't necessarily endorse them.

Some campaign groups think that boycotts aren't a good idea in case a company withdraws its business from a factory overseas as a result thus causing lots of workers to lose their jobs and livelihood. Others believe they can be very effective. We think it's up to you where you spend your money.


banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Ongoing boycott of one subsidiary or brand

Boycott Call - now ceased

Ongoing boycott of the whole company group

Genetic Engineering

Some of the world's leading genetic engineering companies have lobbied their governments for specific trade rules which now govern the cross-border transfer of genetically modified (GM) crops, most notably, patents.

Campaigners have argued that patenting crops reduces the ability of poorer farmers to save seeds for future use, as it enables a company to own the rights to re-use seed.

These companies have also lobbied against international biosafety standards to govern the potential environmental impact of GM crops in case these standards restrict a company from exporting its GM crops.


Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Involvement in the non-medical GM of plants or animals

Company has been involved in cloning Involvement in xenotransplantation

False labelling/trading of genetically modified goods/ingredients

manufacture or sale of non-medical products involving or containing GMOs

Funding of medical genetic modification of plants or animals

Manufacture or sale of products likely to contain GMOs and the lack of a clear group-wide GMO policy

Funding of non-medical genetic modification of plants or animals

No GM-free cotton policy in clothing sector company

Growing GM crops

positive policy addressing a genetic engineering issue

illegal or unauthorised release or use of GMOs

Public defence/promotion of medical GM technology

Public statements in favour of the use of GMOs in non-medical applications

Involvement in gene patenting

Sale or production of animals or animal products withthe use of GM animal feed

Involvement in GM medical products

Criticised on ethical grounds

Secondary criticism

Political Activity

We think that companies have too much influence over governments through lobby groups or donating to the parties themselves.

There are negative marks for companies that donate money to political parties, or companies involved in persuading governments and institutions, through international lobbying organisations, to change policy.



Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Lobbying governments for contracts or policy changes

Bilderberg Group

Business Action for Sustainable Development

American Chamber of Commerce - AMCHAM-EU

Business Round Table

Transatlantic Business Dialogue

Trilateral Commision

European Round Table of Industrialists

European Services Forum

International Chamber of Commerce

US Coalition of Service Industries

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Economic Forum

member of free trade lobby group, other than those listed

Positive policy addressing a political activities issue

Recorded meetings with ministers 

Secondary criticism

Company has stated policy of not making political donations

Suppression of criticism for activities in EC categories by legal or political means

Donations to both left and right wing parties>£49,999 

Donations to both left and right wing political parties <£49,998

UK Conservative party <£50,000

UK Conservative party £50,000 or more 

UK Labour party <£50,000

UK Labour party £50,000 or more

US Republicans >$100,000

Less than £50,000 (or unknown amount) to any other political party

£50,000 or more to any other political party 

initiating NAFTA

Lobbying against legislation designed to correct abuses in other ECRA categories 

Lobbying against sound environmental policies 

Lobbying against sound environmental policies - aggravated

WTO lobbying


Download a  pdf document with full details on all ratings