In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Johnson & Johnson's website for its policy on the use of nanotechnology. The company stated that it used nanotechnology. It stated:

"With respect to responsible use of nanotechnology, each Johnson & Johnson Operating Company should: Ensure that the responsibility for guiding and managing involvement with nanotechnologies resides with an appropriate governing body. Seek input from key stakeholders and evaluate these inputs in development or use of products using nanotechnologies. Identify and minimize sources of risk for workers handling products using nanotechnologies, at all stages in the discovery/research and production processes or in industrial use, to ensure high standards of occupational and environmental health and safety. Carry out thorough risk assessments and minimize any potential human health, safety and environmental risks relating to its products using nanotechnologies. Consider and respond to any social and ethical implications and impacts in the development or sale of products using nanotechnologies. Adopt responsible practice in the sales and marketing of products using nanotechnologies. Consider the sustainability of nanomaterials. Engage with suppliers and/or business partners to assure there are no conflicts with these guidelines."

The company was thus marked down in the controversial technologies category.

Reference:

Website (30 April 2019)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Johnson and Johnson website and saw that it manufactured products using cotton. Ethical Consumer also searched for a company policy on sourcing cotton. No policy could be found.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

Website (30 April 2019)

In February 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Johnson and Johnson's website for information on its use of genetically modified organisms. No information could be found.

In December 2016 Ethical Consumer had previously viewed Johnson & Johnson's website which had stated that it used "genetically modified organisms when appropriate."

As no more recent information contradicted this, it was assumed to still be true.

Reference:

Website (30 April 2019)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for Johnson & Johnson on the Opensecrets.org website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics. This stated that in the 2018 election cycle, the company had spent $13,710,000 on lobbying and made $1,149,353 in political donations. Of this, 55% was donated to Republican candidates and 45% to Democrats. NOTE: OpenSecrets states: “The organization itself did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate family members. Organizations themselves cannot contribute to candidates and party committees. Totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.”

In 2016-2018, 52 out of 65 Johnson & Johnson lobbyists were said to have previously held government jobs.

As a result, the company lost a whole mark under Politcal Activities.

Reference:

Open Secrets generic ref 2020 (2020)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed its list of members of groups that it considers to be lobbying for free trade at the expense of people, animals or the environment, updated in December 2019. Johnson and Johnson was listed as a member of the following groups:

US council for International Business
Amcham EU
Business Roundtable
World Economic Forum

It was thus marked down in the Political Activities category.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Lobby Group member list (19 February 2020)

In February 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Johnson & Johnson's latest SEC Filing DEF14A which included a compensation summary table. In 2018 several directors were paid over £1 million. The highest paid received $20,097,572. Ethical Consumer considered remuneration over £1 million to be excessive.

Reference:

Form DEF 14a (30 April 2019)

A report published by Citizens for Tax Justice on October 2016 criticized US tax policy on large multinational corporations. Many multinational corporations used accounting tricks to pretend for that a substantial portion of their profits were generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence could be as little as a mailbox.

The study examined the use of tax havens by Fortune 500 companies in 2015. It revealed that tax haven use was ubiquitous among America’s largest companies and that a narrow set of companies benefited disproportionately.

Amongst these companies Johnson & Johnson was named as one of the Top 30 companies with the most money held offshore.
It was found to maintain 62 subsidiaries in the following tax havens: Hong Kong (1), Ireland
(26), Luxembourg (4), Netherlands (12), Singapore (1) and Switzerland (18). The amount held offshore was $58 billion. Neither the overall rate of the tax paid on this overseas cash, nor any estimate of the US tax avoided, were disclosed.

Reference:

Offshore Shell Games 2016 (October 2016)

n February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Johnson & Johnson’s list of subsidiaries in its 10-K filing with SEC (Exhibit 21). This showed that the company had several subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Of these, a number were holding companies, which was a high risk company type for likely use of tax avoidance:

AMO Nominee Holdings, LLC; AMO Sales and Service, Inc.; AMO Spain Holdings, LLC; AMO U.K. Holdings, LLC; AMO US Holdings, Inc.; AMO USA Sales Holdings, Inc; all in the US state of Delaware

There were further holding companies in Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Cayman Islands, all of which were considered to be tax havens at the time of writing.

An internet search using the search terms “Johnson & Johnson tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes.

Given that Johnson & Johnson had two or more high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark under the anti-social finance category.

Reference:

SEC 10-K Exhibit 21 (2019)