Politics


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


 

Controversial Technologies

Ethical Consumer is creating a new category called Controversial Technologies. This category will bring together three areas we already rate companies under: Nuclear Power, Genetic Engineering and Nanotechnology

While some argue that all three technologies pose risks to humans and the environment, for others the issues are less of a concern. Subscribers will be able to click on the dots on the expanded product tables to read more detail about what a particular company is being criticised for.

Under Nuclear Power, companies will be marked down for being involved in managing nuclear power plants or providing services to the nuclear power industry. Those energy companies where more than 5% of their energy mix comes from nuclear power will also lose marks under this category.

Under Genetic Engineering, companies will be marked down if they are involved in the manufacture or sale of non-medical products likely to contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms); lack of a clear company wide GMO free policy or publicly support the use of GMOs in non-medical products. Those involved in the following: the non-medical genetic modification of plants or animals; gene patenting; and xenotransplantation will also receive criticism under this category.

Nanotechnology is controversial because it remains unclear what long-term effects many nano-particles – used in a range of products from suncreams to tennis balls – will have on humans and the environment.

 

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

GE company has been involved in cloning

GE False labelling/trading of genetically modified goods/ingredients

GE Funding of medical genetic modification of plants or animals

GE Funding of non-medical genetic modification of plants or animals

GE Growing GM crops

GE illegal or unauthorised release or use of GMOs

GE Information Only

GE Involvement in gene patenting

GE involvement in GM medical products criticised on ethical grounds

GE involvement in the non-medical GM of plants or animals

GE Involvement in xenotransplantation

GE Licensing relationship with a company criticised in this category

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

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

GE No GM-free cotton policy in clothing sector company

GE No GMOs policy for own brand products

GE positive policy addressing a genetic engineering issue

GE Public defence/promotion of medical GM technology

GE public statements in favour of the use of GMOs in non-medical applications

GE Sale or production of animals or animal products with the use of GM animal feed

GE Secondary criticism

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

NP Involved in construction, design, operating or provision of core services

NP Licensing relationship with a company criticised in this category

NP medical equipment/uses

NP membership of a nuclear power industry association

NP nuclear fuel - uranium mining or processing

NP nuclear fuel equipment

NP ownership of nuclear power stations

NP Positive policy addressing a nuclear power issue

NP Provision of other nuclear equipment eg monitoring / clothing

NP Releasing nuclear waste into the environment

NP secondary criticism

NP secondary criticism aggravated

NP Supplier of electricity where >5% comes from nuclear

NP transport of nuclear waste

NP waste handling, treatment or storage

NT Involvement in nanotechnology

 


 

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


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


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

 

 


Download a  pdf document with full details on all ratings