14 July, 2023
At Good Business we love a long read, and none more so than those that shine a light on responsible business practices. So it was with interest that we dug into the Guardian’s investigation into the client overlap of US lobbyists this week.
In short, the article reveals that more than 1,500 lobbyists in the US are working for fossil fuel companies while also representing liberal-run cities, universities, technology companies, and environmental groups that claim to be addressing the climate crisis. While there are no regulations prohibiting lobbyists from representing clients with conflicting interests, lobbyists with such diverse and contrasting client lists raise questions about the integrity of the service provided. And for their sustainably minded clients – who are presumably working hard to uphold transparent and ethical practices across their supply chain – being seen to share a service provider with big oil is not a great look.
The investigation is an interesting extension of the scrutiny that is applied to businesses’ supply chain partners – and a welcome one. If, in response, businesses begin asking their lobbyists, agencies, and other service providers about other clients or sectors they represent, it will force a greater examination by these providers about who they work with and who they don’t. And if that ultimately means that businesses with vested interests in advancing high carbon or environmentally destructive agendas have trouble getting their voices heard in government circles, well, that’s life.
That said, we do, as ever, believe in the need for nuance. And in the interests of full transparency, although we don’t do lobbying, at Good Business, our overarching criterion for taking on new clients has always been “is this client committed to positive transformational change through their work with us?” So, while we don’t outright exclude anyone on the basis of their sector (with a small number of exceptions) we do take care to ensure that we’re only ever doing what we’ve set out to do: make good things happen.
Our advice for companies looking for service providers to partner with? Choose your friends wisely.
By Louise Podmore