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Over the last 10-20 years we have seen the rise and rise of populist and nationalist movements in democracies across the world. This, in part, reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the state of our democratic institutions. Many people just don’t believe that democracy delivers for them.
My guest for this episode is Professor Alberto Alemanno. To combat the ever-increasing attraction of illiberal political movements, Alberto believes we need to work towards creating a more even playing field between companies and citizens in our civil society. If we could do that, so the argument goes, we would have a healthier polity and more effective democratic institutions.
A specific step toward these goals would be to expect private firms to make public all of their political activity – adding a ‘P’ for politics – to their existing ESG reporting requirements. As part of this, firms would need to report their support and membership of trade associations and the policies those associations work for and against. Like holding firms responsible for the ESG of companies in their supply chains, this type of political reporting would hold firms responsible for the interventions in the political system made on their behalf by others. Alberto argues that this would stop companies from playing a double game of supporting one policy publicly while simultaneously working to stop that policy through their support of other organisations and associations. The idea is a fascinating one, and Alberto’s knowledge and passion of the issues it raises shine through in our conversation.