Alberto Alemanno speaks at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos as one of the awardees of 2022 Social Innovation Thought Leader of the Year by the Schwab Foundation. The session’s theme is “Transforming through Trust”.
As we lose trust in our institutions, businesses are increasingly expected to step into the void left by governments and tackle major social challenges. However, Professor Alemanno asks, “How can companies do so when they continue to hijack the very same institutions we no longer trust by pushing for their special interests through lobbying and political donations?” He asserts that “Time has come to democratize lobbying as a privileged manner to restore trust in our societies.”
Professor Alemanno argues that today even the most sustainable companies continue to block legislation advancing progressive goals. A company that appears to “walk the talk” on climate change may actually be lobbying against greater regulation of emissions. A business may publicly support LGBTQ+ issues, while at the same time fund a political candidate opposing such rights. In his view, this is the key factor holding back progress on major societal issues such as climate change or social justice. He urges businesses to become not only more environmentally and socially responsible, but also more politically responsible. For this to occur, companies must become fully transparent in their political activities, align their statements with their lobbying practices and ultimately share access to power with more stakeholders so that a broader range of voices can be heard by decision-makers.