Corporate Political Responsibility Taskforce

Resource hub

The resources below are intended to help you explore various resources related to establishing corporate political responsibility as a norm, the risks and opportunities that motivate companies to do so, and tools, frameworks, and case studies that can help. Scroll through all the resources on this page or use the anchor links to jump to specific categories.

Why CPR?

Explore high-level motivations and rationales to guide companies in establishing corporate political responsibility as a norm.

CPR Tools & Framework

More on the Erb Principles for Corporate Political Responsibility and related articles to guide responsible political activity

External Tools and Frameworks

Tools and frameworks from our partners and collaborators to help operationalize corporate political responsibility

Going Further

Additional seminal resources and articles from recent years

Why CPR?

High-level motivations and rationales for corporate political responsibility.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

CSR Needs CPR: Corporate Sustainability and Politics

(Tom Lyon et al, CMR, 2018): Summarizes research on the role of corporations in advancing sustainability, and finds that a company’s political activities may have more impact on social and environmental sustainability than operations. Introduces the concept of “corporate political responsibility” (CPR), which requires transparency, accountability, and responsibility. GO >

Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons: How to Improve the Political Environment for US Business (Conference Board, 2023)
(Conference Board, 2023):  Survey data shows government affairs and chief legal officers view increased political polarization and decreased trust in government as undermining long-term business planning. Recommends companies adopt shared frameworks and rethink PAC giving and lobbying to support bipartisanship, systemic change, and a positive social impact.

GO >

Fixing US Politics (Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review, 2020)
Founder of the Institute for Political Innovation and a Harvard Professor teamed up to identify the most powerful levers for transformation in American politics. Calls on corporate leaders to reconsider political engagement practices that contribute to gridlock and undermine long-term US competitiveness. 

GO >
Are Businesses Undermining Democracy? (Stanford GSB, February 2021)
Summarizes proceedings of the 2021 Stanford Conference on Corporations and Democracy, on topics such as de-corruption, corporate legal rights, and what it means to operate a business justly.

GO>

Ready or Not, the Era of Corporate Political Responsibility is Upon Us (Tom Lyon, The Hill, 2021)
Highlights rising scrutiny of corporate involvement in political and social issues and growing expectations for corporate political responsibility. Discusses the role of corporations in issues like voting rights, climate change, social justice, and economic opportunity.

GO>

Corporate Political Responsibility (Tom Lyon, Cambridge University Press, November 2023)
Explores how large companies wield political influence, offering insights on motivations for responsible conduct. Establishes new norms and discusses activism’s role in promoting transparent, accountable, and responsible corporate political engagement.

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Do managers have a role to play in sustaining the institutions of capitalism? (Tom Lyon et al, CMR, 2018)
Summarizes research on the role of corporations in advancing sustainability, and finds that a company’s political activities may have more impact on social and environmental sustainability than operations. Introduces the concept of “corporate political responsibility” (CPR), which requires transparency, accountability, and responsibility.

GO >

Time to Succeed (WBCSD, 2021)
In a significant Vision 2050 update, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development highlights the crucial next decade for achieving “9+ billion people living well within planetary boundaries.” Advocates a CPR-driven mindset, urging firms to align policy activities with purpose and sustainability goals. Stresses collaboration for innovative policy ideas, removal of short-termist incentives, and inclusive stakeholder engagement. Read the full Time to Transform report here.
Good Corporate Citizenship We Can All Get Behind?: Toward A Principled, Non-Ideological Approach To Making Money The Right Way (Leo E. Strine, Jr., 2022)
Hon. Leo E. Strine, Jr., former Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, considers whether for-profit corporations should prioritize all stakeholders or solely seek profits for stockholders. Suggests a corporate citizenship model centered on fair treatment of stakeholders and responsible profit-making, aligning with shared American values for a widely accepted approach to corporate governance accountability.

GO >

Firm-Level Risks and Opportunities 

Brand and Reputation

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and a firm’s brand or reputation.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Under a Microscope: A New Era of Scrutiny for Corporate Political Activity

(The Conference Board, 2021): Provides a comprehensive overview of the current legal landscape for corporate political activity. Emphasizes the importance of managing reputational and other risks, underscoring the necessity for oversight and transparency in governing political spending. GO >

Business Perspectives on Political Backlash
(Business for America, 2023): Offers a look at insights from a survey of more than 50 U.S. business leaders across sectors. Provides five key survey takeaways on what businesses are facing and how prepared they are for potential backlash in the 2024 election. 

GO >

2022 Public Affairs Pulse Survey Report
Reveals increased corporate engagement in social issues amid political uncertainty, resulting in a three-percentage-point surge in public trust for major companies. Shows variation in trust across industries and age demographics. Suggests concerns about institutional and corporate influence, and optimism regarding the growing prominence of small businesses. 

GO >
Conflicted Consequences 
(Center for Political Accountability, 2020):Investigates the impact  of 527 organizations – a lesser-known channel of political spending. Exposes contradictions betweens companies’ stated values and commitments and actual impacts of this channel for election-related spending from corporate treasury funds. 

GO>

The New CEO Activists
 (Mike Toffel, HBR, 2018): Outlines trends toward rising CEO activism and its influence, risks, and rewards. Shares research suggesting that CEOs must strategically decide when and how to engage with social and political issues, and offers a playbook for CEOs to embrace transparency and accountability to their company values. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

Strategy in a Hyper Political World

(Roger L. Martin & Martin Reeves, HBR, 2022): Emphasizes that all business decisions now involve complex ethical, societal and/or political issues. Urges leaders to adopt clear, robust principles, address ethics proactively, communicate consistently, collaborate broadly, and learn from errors for effective strategy implementation. GO >

Hirschman to the Rescue: How Political Should Companies Be?
(Marius Kleinheyer, 2023): Businesses confront the choice between “Exit” and “Voice” in political engagement. Embracing “Voice” through political participation can enhance loyalty and corporate social responsibility, benefiting both companies and society. 

GO >

Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Corporate Entanglement
(BCG Henderson Institute, 2023): Examines corporate involvement in politics and the risks these can create, advocating for restrained engagement, respect for democratic processes, and the empowerment of individual employees as citizens.    GO >
When Should Your Company Speak Out on a Social Issue?
(Paul A. Argenti, HBR, 2020): Presents a framework for businesses on handling social and political issues, urging alignment with company values, potential for meaningful impact, and stakeholder consensus. Underscores strategic, authentic communication over reactionary stances. 

GO >

Employee And Customer Expectations

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and attracting, retaining and engaging employees and customers.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Edelman Trust Barometer 2024

(Edelman, 2024): The 24th annual global survey finds that a rift between innovation and society is a new factor causing further political polarization. While rapid innovation holds promise for a new era of prosperity, it continues to exacerbate trust issues. The report points to an opportunity for businesses to reverse the trend by explaining how innovation can benefit society and not just investors.    GO >

JUST Capital’s 2022 Americans’ Views on Business Survey: Americans Want Less Talk, More Action
(Jennifer Tonti, JUST Capital, 2022): Highlights widespread support for prioritizing workers and fair wages in the face of economic challenges. A perceived gap between public desires and corporate priorities, coupled with eroding trust in large corporations, suggests that investing in workers is key. Data shows strong support for workers’ rights and collective bargaining. 

GO >

Why Stakeholder Capitalism Will Fail
(Steve Denning, 2022): Underscores the pitfalls of ‘stakeholder capitalism’ because it lacks focus on the central role of customer engagement and value-creation. Emphasizes the need for clear customer-focused strategies and a shift from traditional bureaucratic practices for sustained success. 

GO >
Greater Expectations: The Evolving Role of Companies Post Elections
(Morning Consult, 2020): Argues that stakeholder capitalism leads brands to adopt a meaningful purpose and engage in corporate social responsibility as an integral part of their business strategy. Emphasizes companies being attentive to consumer values, actively working on solutions, and avoiding polarization, recognizing that passive consumerism is a thing of the past. Also highlights the impact of elections on long-term reputation. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

Lobbying for Good 

(Foundation for Public Affairs, 2021): Presents a framework guiding companies on engaging with social issues, offering a spectrum from supporter to champion. Describes the key elements of an effective engagement plan that breaks down functional silos, supported by compelling case studies.  GO >

The Purpose Priorities Report: How to respond in the New Era of Accountability
(Porter Novelli, 2022): Highlights that consumers are responsive to a company’s political engagement, emphasizing the intrinsic link between purpose and politics. Calls out the need for active management and careful review of issues engaged. 

GO >

How The Rise Of Employee-Led Activism Is Changing Expectations Of Leadership
(Ashish Kaushal, Forbes, 2022): Emphasizes the rise of employee-led activism in shaping corporate social responsibility, stressing that successful companies must actively embody their values and respond to social issues to attract and retain talent. Advocates for leaders to redefine profit measurements, prioritize employee satisfaction, and encourage workplace cultures driven by purpose beyond traditional financial success.    GO >
Business Disruption From the Inside Out
(Forrest Briscoe & Abhinav Gupta, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2021): Highlights the rise of employee activism as an internal force for change. Advises managers to engage with these movements proactively, to foster innovation and enhance company culture. 

GO >

Investor Expectations

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and attracting, retaining and engaging investors.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Friedman at 50: Is It Still the Social Responsibility of Business to Increase Profits? 

(Karthik Ramanna, CMR, 2020): Reflects on Friedman’s claim that business should solely increase profits, homing in on the qualifying clause—that markets need non-market institutions to safeguard the conditions for competition. Argues that corporate influence on the political landscape often tilts in their favor, at the expense of the public sphere and the premise of free markets.  GO >

Corporate Political Spending is Bad Business 
(Leo E. Strine, Dorothy Lund, Harvard Business Review, January 2022):  Argues that political spending hurts shareholder interests because it increases risks, is not transparent, and correlates with lower financial performance. Recommends that companies end all spending, obtain shareholder consent, or limit expenditures to PACs (which are strictly voluntary and have mandated disclosure). 

GO >

There’s another reason companies should tread carefully with political influence — the stock market is watching
(Victor Reklaitis, 2022): Describes the Center for Political Accountability’s expanded scrutiny of corporate political spending—driven by investor demands for greater transparency—to include Russell 1000 companies. Highlights the growing significance of political ethics in business strategies and investment decisions. 

GO >
The Untenable Case for Keeping Investors in the Dark
(Lucian Bebchuk, Robert Jackson Jr., James Nelson, & Roberto Tallarita, 2020): Summarizes the debate about whether public companies should disclose political spending. Addresses objections raised by opponents of mandatory disclosure, addressing concerns about counterproductivity and potential First Amendment violations. 

GO>

More Shareholders Seek Transparency on Corporate Political Spending and Climate Change
(Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, 2021): Highlights the surge in shareholder activism, urging companies to listen to investor demands for greater transparency and ethical conduct, driving corporate responsibility and ensuring alignment with long-term democratic and environmental values. 

GO>

Commissioner Allison Herren Lee Speaks Out on “Materiality,” ESG Matters, Political Spending and Disclosure, Need for SEC Action
(Center for Political Responsibility, 2021): Commissioner Allison Herren Lee addresses misconceptions about ESG disclosures, emphasizing the lack of mandates on corporate political spending and the potential pitfalls of company-led statements. Calls for regulatory scrutiny. 

GO>

Fiduciary Blind Spot 
(Leo E. Strine, Harvard Law School, 2019): Describes legitimacy problems where corporations may use worker investors’ funds for political spending without transparency or accountability to those investors or civil society. Outlines investment managers’  political power in resolving this issue and tendency to  support policies contrary to worker investors’ interests. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

The Investor Case for Responsible Political Engagement

(PRI, 2022): Encourages responsible corporate political engagement. Highlighting precedent-setting principles, the report details risks from irresponsible political engagement practices (e.g. the revolving door), burdening companies, investors, and society.  GO >

CPA’s Guide to Corporate Political Spending: A Practical Guide for Management
(Bruce Freed, et al, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, 2023): Provides a practical checklist for management, addressing risks associated with contributions, aligning spending with core values, avoiding siloed decision-making, supporting politicians in line with company interests, and safeguarding democratic institutions.  

GO >

The Good Lobby Tracker
(The Good Lobby, 2023): Provides an assessment of existing corporate political responsibility initiatives for use by business practitioners, investors, civil society advocates, regulators and other stakeholders. Uses a set of 30 questions to rate frameworks against an idealized corporate political responsibility standard.     GO >

Other Stakeholder Expectations

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and legal or regulatory issues.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Backlash: The Counter Revolutions Driving Politics and Policy

(Bruce Mehlman, 2022): Explores the cyclicality of policy and politics, addressing four key backlashes: political, market, technology, and cultural cycles, offering insights for institutional success.  GO >

Pause in Corporate PAC Spending Triggers Political Pushback
(Brody Mullins & Emily Glazer & Chad Day, WSJ, 2021): Explores consequences of a pause in corporate PAC spending, highlighting concerns from lawmakers about potential risks to business priorities and election prospects. 

GO >

GOP Senators’ ESG Letter
(United States Senate, 2022): Explores House Republicans’ proposed legislation limiting the SEC’s authority on climate disclosure for public companies. Raises concerns about economic repercussions and stresses the importance of data crucial to investment strategies. 

GO >
Senate Republicans warn U.S. law firms over ESG advice
(David Thomas, Reuters, 2022): Senate Republicans caution law firms about potential antitrust violations linked to ESG issues. Targets efforts limiting fossil fuel supplies and raising energy costs, hinting at possible referrals to antitrust authorities. 

GO>

House Republicans float bill to block SEC climate disclosure proposal
(Brian Croce, 2022): Examines House Republicans’ proposed legislation limiting the SEC’s authority on climate disclosure for public companies. Raises concerns about economic repercussions and stresses the importance of data crucial to investment strategies. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

ESG Investigations Tracker:

(Debevoise and Plimpton, 2023): Offers a timeline of significant developments in the U.S. ESG landscape, showcasing industry responses, Republican opposition, Democratic support, legal disputes, and ongoing debates over fiduciary responsibilities, antitrust issues, and government intervention in ESG initiatives.  GO >

A legal framework for the integration of environmental, social and governance issues into institutional investment
(Freshfields, United Nations Environmental Program, 2005): Conducts an annual review of ESG integration in investment decisions, clarifying legal aspects and dispelling misconceptions. Examines the voluntary, legal, or regulatory nature of ESG integration. Explores the relationship between the global environmental and social landscape and investment choices for institutional investors. 

GO >

A Refreshing Look at Fiduciary Duties—Significant new reports show that all institutional investing must be responsible investing
(The Shareholder Commons): Empowers investors to confront companies that generate adverse impacts on society and the environment while delivering financial returns. Highlights duty of investment professionals to combat risks through Instrumental Investing for Sustainability Impact (IFSI).    GO >
Does the law require institutional investors to pursue sustainability goals?
(Freshfield): Explores if investors should go beyond financial returns to pursue environmental and social goals. Evaluates legal landscape in 11 global investment hubs. Critical resource for institutional investors shaping legal systems for sustainability.    GO >
State-Level ESG Investment Developments: Tracker
(Debevoise and Plimpton, 2023): Highlights 2023’s surge in state-level ESG legislation, surpassing 200 bills since 2020. Observes increased disclosures for investment advisers, stricter compliance requirements for companies, and California’s notable climate-related laws.     GO >

Systemic-Level Risks and Opportunities 

Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and the environment.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Seven Barriers to U.S. Business Leadership on Climate Policy and How to Break Them Down 

(World Resources Institute, 2021): Highlights three internal and four external barriers to advocating publicly for robust climate policies, including organizational structure and political dynamics. Proposes strategies to overcome these challenges.  GO >

How Companies Are — and Aren’t — Leading on Climate Policy
(Ketu, Miller, Ceres, 2022): Highlights the critical need for corporate leaders to advocate for targeted Paris-aligned climate policies, emphasizing that such engagement helps companies navigate regulatory changes, reduce risks, and attract climate-conscious investors. 

GO >

The Complicity of Corporate Sustainability
(Auden Schendler, SSIR, 2021): Challenges historical approaches to corporate sustainability, arguing for a shift towards addressing systemic change. Urges examination of public policy aspects as integral to sustainability solutions. 

GO >
Greenwash vs. Brownwash: Exaggeration and Undue Modesty in Corporate Sustainability Disclosure
(Eun-Hee Kim & Thomas P Lyon, 2014): Explores corporate greenwashing’s impact on sustainability claims, revealing how factors like corporate growth and profits influence the choice between greenwashing and brownwashing. External scrutiny is identified as a moderating factor. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

InfluenceMap CA100+ Investor Hub:

Provides resources for investors on Corporate Climate Policy Engagement.  GO >

Blueprint for Responsible Policy Engagement on Climate Change 
(CERES, 2020): Offers recommendations on establishing systems for addressing climate change as a systemic risk and integrating this understanding into direct and indirect lobbying on climate policies. 

GO >

AAA Framework for US Climate Policy Leadership
(AAA, 2021): Urges business to include climate policy advocacy aligned with their sustainability strategies. Advocates for science-based climate actions, including supporting legislation aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, emphasizing the importance of lobbying efforts aligning with these objectives.    GO >
Addressing Trade Association Misalignment on Climate Policy 
(The B Team): Guides companies in understanding and aligning the climate policies of their trade associations with science-based targets.    GO >
Leading Lobbying Practices to Drive 1.5 Policy Action
(Paul Hodgson & Tracey Rembert, 2022): Emphasizes the need for corporate action on sustainability issues through the Global Standard. This standard provides 14 indicators for investors to be aware of, ranging from committing to Paris-aligned climate lobbying to engaging in positive lobbying.     GO >
Climate Ambition to Advocacy
(We Mean Business Coalition): Highlights the need to align advocacy efforts with climate commitments, supporting policies for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Addresses internal alignment challenges within companies and the absence of a global RPE (Responsible Political Engagement) framework.    GO >

Economic Opportunity and Inclusion

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and access to economic opportunity and inclusion. 

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Faster Growth, Fairer Growth 

(Niskanen Center, 2020):  Argues that regulatory capture—specifically in finance, health care and housing sectors—has created extensive roadblocks to achieving inclusive prosperity. Advocates for a more dynamic high road economy built around equitable access to high quality services (See pg 1-11).  GO >

2021 Porter Novelli Business & Social Justice Study 
(Porter Novelli, May 2021): Following a defining year where the role of companies in advancing social justice became evident, a majority of Americans now find it unacceptable for corporations to stay silent on social issues. This survey of 1,000 U.S. adults explores how many are holding their personal employers to even higher standards 

GO >

The Case for Common Good Capitalism
(Marco Rubio, November 2019): Contrasts common-good capitalism with the modern shareholder-dominated economy. Advocates for restoring balance by prioritizing worker benefits and economic fairness. Analyzes how large corporations have become beholden to shareholder and bank demands, reducing innovation and limiting financial opportunity for other stakeholders 

GO >
The Business Role in Creating a 21st-Century Social Contract 
(Business for Social Responsibility, 2020): Discusses creating a new social contract in business, emphasizing collaboration between public and private entities. Highlights the opportunity areas specifically for businesses. (71 pages in full, 9-page summary linked here) 

GO>

AI and Ethics: Issue Brief
(Bipartisan Policy Center, 2020): Emphasizes the importance of fairness, bias reduction, and privacy protection in the use of artificial intelligence technologies. Calls for a collaborative approach to address ethical challenges through research, diversity, standards development, and regulatory modernization. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

(2011): Widely accepted multi-sector framework outlining expectations for companies to evaluate and disclose their commitment to human rights, identify salient issues, identifying processes for responding to claims, conducting due diligence and identifying strategies to prevent, mitigate or remediate adverse impacts on individuals and communities. Supports corporate political responsibility by outlining political rights as human rights, and providing established processes to draw on.  GO >

Corporate Performance Standards On Racial & Economic Equity: Developmental Approach and Methodology
(2022): Argues for the private sector’s crucial role in eliminating racial and economic inequality. Provides guidelines for responsible corporate activity, including responsible corporate political influence. Defines equity as just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. 

GO >

Rebuilding American Capitalism: A Handbook for Conservative Policymakers
(American Compass) Argues for policy grounded in conservative economics frameworks, recalling that the purpose of markets is to serve society and expand societal welfare. Calls on policy makers to align economic policy positions with this purpose and public priorities.     GO >
Executive Guide to Navigating Our Complex Political, Social and Economic Environment
(IGC, 2023): Emphasizes the need to define supplier standards, align philanthropy with values, link political activities with social strategy, monitor investor trends, engage authentic employee social involvement, and communicate transparent impact plans to customers.    GO >
The Climate Justice Playbook for Business 
(B Lab, 2021): Calls on the global business community to shift from extractive to regenerative practices, emphasizing equity-driven solutions for those most impacted by climate change. Encourages businesses to incorporate all stakeholders in their decisions and take responsibility to reduce their negative environmental impacts.    GO >
The Just Transition: A Framework for Company Action
(Council for Inclusive Capitalism): Presents an all-encompassing guide for institutions to equitably transition to net-zero emissions, including four pillars and 20 building blocks, with practical examples and calls to ensure alignment with just transition assessment methodologies. Guiding principles include fostering collaboration and transparency throughout the process.    GO >

Strong Civic Institutions

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and healthy civic institutions and human rights.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Understanding U.S. Political Risk: Implications for Business

(Leadership Now, 2023): Outlines the critical threats facing U.S. democratic institutions and how weakening political structures can affect the business environment. Provides actionable strategies business leaders can use to mitigate these risks and help stabilize U.S. democracy. GO >

The Business Case for Saving Democracy 
(Rebecca Henderson, Harvard Business Review, 2020): Argues that free markets need free politics and that business has a stake in well-functioning, trusted government. Recommends that businesses shift from partisan players to supporters of the democratic process. 

GO >

Geopolitical Corporate Responsibility Can Drive Change:
(Bennett Freeman, 2022): Argues that multinational companies should adopt a new geopolitical corporate responsibility, using influential economic power to support the international rules-based order during stress or challenges. 

GO >
Chairman's Message: What Happened on Capitol Hill Was Predictable
(Steve Killelea, 2021): Shows how the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection was predictable, given declines in eight “pillars of positive peace.” Recommends averting future violence by strengthening these pillars, which include well-functioning government, sound business environment, low levels of corruption, respect for the rights of others, etc. 

GO>

Historically Low Faith in U.S. Institutions Continues
(Lydia Saad, 2023): Discusses persistent decline in  trust in major institutions in the U.S. Highlights that small businesses and the military are most trusted, with Congress at 8% and big business at 14%. 

GO>

Public Trust in Government: 1958-2023
(Pew Research Center, 2023): Reveals that public trust in the federal government has dropped to near-record lows following a trend of declining trust since the 1960s, with partisan and racial disparities in trust levels. 

GO>

Corporate Enablers
(Center for Political Accountability, 2021): Provides detailed data on how corporate contributions to state level 527 groups ended up enabling legislation that reduced voter access. 

GO>

Large Corporations Contributed to Our Political Polarization: Here’s How They Can Fix It 
(Mark Mizruchi, Niskanen Center, 2020): Provides a historical link between a decline in leadership by large corporations and policy eras contributing to political polarization. Argues for private sector investment in public policy, advocating for sustained involvement beyond one-off CSR initiatives. 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

(American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2020): Summarizes the results of a two-year bipartisan commission studying citizen concerns and how to revitalize democratic participation. Calls for a “fourth founding” of the United States, outlining six imperatives: achieve equal representation, empower voters, ensure political responsiveness, expand civil society, build civic information systems, and nurture a culture of commitment to democracy.  GO >

The Better Arguments Project
(Aspen Institute/Allstate, 2020): Explores the history, emotion, and power of effective argumentation to promote more constructive debates and mutual learning in America. Shares key principles, including removing the focus on winning, prioritizing relationships and engaged listening, considering context, embracing vulnerability, and creating space for transformation. 

GO >

Corporate Civic Playbook
(Civic Alliance, 2022): Assembles a robust playbook for companies to help empower people and support a strong democracy. Includes concepts for the business case, self-assessment questions, and concrete steps to engage employees, consumers, and stakeholders more representatively.    GO >
Business Bridging Divides
(Business for America, 2023): Explores how the business community can incorporate conflict navigation and relationship-building in employee training and development. Provides information on how America’s divides are affecting businesses and supports to help these challenges.     GO >
UN SDG 16 Business Framework
(United Nations Global Compact): Encourages businesses to actively participate in fostering resilient, inclusive societies as part of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16. Advocates for access to justice and effective, accountable institutions to promote a better and more equitable future.    GO >
Business Leader’s Guide to Democracy
(Leadership Now Project): Provides information on various aspects of democratic systems, including campaign finance, business engagement, threats, and innovation. Enhances conversations around protecting and renewing American democracy.     GO >
“POST-MAP-ASK” Towards a More Democratic, Modern Lobbying Process
(New America Foundation, 2016):Promotes the establishment of a voluntary public database to monitor the political stances and documents of advocacy groups. The objective is to enhance transparency in the lobbying process, simplifying the identification of stakeholders and their positions in crucial policy discussions.    GO >

Long-Term Shareholder Value

Risks and opportunities related to political influence and long-term shareholder value.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Sustaining Capitalism: Bipartisan Solutions to Restore Trust & Prosperity

(Odland & Minarik, Committee for Economic Development, 2017):  Outlines how US long-term economic growth requires addressing declining trust in economic fairness, well-functioning government, and even capitalism. Calls on business leaders to champion fair competition, transparency, and a long-term perspective, while working with policymakers in support of reforms in campaign finance, lobbying, redistricting, and the legislative process, as critical to restoring public trust and securing capitalism’s sustainability.  GO >

Financial Implications of Rising Political Risk in the US
(Stephen Davis, 2023): Highlights survey findings on increasing threats to U.S. democracy and concerns about U.S. public companies’ ability to manage political risks. 

GO >

The Financial and Economic Dangers of Democratic Backsliding
(Layna Mosley, Brookings Institution, States United Democracy Center, 2023): Discusses the need for institutional investors to consider U.S. political risk in investment decisions amid democratic erosion. 

GO >
How Does Business Fare Under Populism?
(Rachel Kleinfeld, 2023): Discusses the rise of populist leaders. Explores their tendency to centralize power, sideline institutional checks, and implement policies challenging conventional political categories. Analyzes the impact on businesses navigating this political landscape. 

GO>

A Recovery Squandered 
(Michael Porter et al, HBS, 2019):Identifies the role of business in political gridlock. Proposes solutions for businesses to contribute positive social and economic impact (see pg 28-36). 

GO>

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Spotlight Resource

Walking the Talk: Valuing a Multi-Stakeholder Strategy

(FLCT Global and Wharton Business School, 2022): Emphasizes the benefits of implementing a multi-stakeholder strategy. Examines how companies prioritizing key stakeholders and excelling in ESG measures achieve higher and more stable returns, enhanced R&D investments, and improved long-term guidance, resulting in significant additional firm value.  GO >

Reinventing Capitalism: A Transformation Agenda
(World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2020):Identifies key factors necessary to refocus capitalism on long-term inclusive growth. Outlines specific practices and policies for businesses to support this transformation, emphasizing the importance of fostering sustainable economic development (see pg 5-13). 

GO >

The Net Positive Manifesto
(Paul Polman and Andrew Winston, HBR, 2021): Introduces the concept of “net positive” companies. Urges corporate leaders to proactively address societal and environmental challenges. Outlines four critical paths for businesses to thrive: serving multiple stakeholders, taking ownership of impacts, forming deep partnerships, and addressing systemic challenges through advocacy and government collaboration.    GO >
Capitalism Recoupled
(Colm Kelly and Dennis Snower, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 2021): Outlines four major forces undermining the conditions needed for markets to create societal value. Emphasizes shifting focus of economic policy toward societal outcomes to ensure businesses serve shareholders, stakeholders, and society at large.    GO >

​​CPR Tools and ​​Framework

Highlights the Erb Principles for Corporate Political Responsibility and related articles on legitimacy, accountability, responsibility and transparency.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

Erb Principles for Corporate Political Responsibility

(Erb Institute): Offers a non-partisan, principled thought process to help companies determine whether and how to engage in civic and political affairs. Outlines key elements of legitimacy, accountability, responsibility, and transparency, enabling companies to reduce risk, increase impact and strengthen trust in civic institutions.  GO >

How Can Companies Use Their Political Influence Responsibly?
(Tom Lyon and Elizabeth Doty, 2023): Highlights the concept of Corporate Political Responsibility (CPR) and why companies have an obligation to ensure their political activities help protect the systems on which society depends. Explores the four CPR principles and how businesses can use them to determine whether and how to engage in the political sphere. 

GO >

How to Juggle Corporate Political Activity with Stakeholder Goals
(Alison Herron Lee and Ed Dolan, 2023): Explores the debate on prioritizing shareholders versus broader stakeholders. Highlights Erb Institute’s CPR principles as a tool to improve markets and outcomes for all stakeholders. 

GO >
The Importance of Corporate Political Responsibility
(Andrew Winston, Elizabeth Doty, Thomas Lyon, 2022): Discusses the misalignment between sustainability and political influence. Emphasizes that companies can avoid policy inconsistency and advance sustainability by focusing on four underlying systems: the rules of the game, civic institutions and representation, civil society and public discourse, and natural systems and shared societal resources. 

GO>

Corporate Political Responsibility in a Captured Economy
(Claudine Schneider and Ed Dolan, 2023): Examines the reasons for our current “captured economy” and how the Erb Principles for CPR broaden the considerations of political involvement for corporate leaders. Offers real-world scenarios for businesses to consider how to engage in political activities without encroaching on the public interest  

GO>

Corporations Were Never Supposed to Write the Rules
(Maureen Kline, 2023): Explores how the Erb Principles for CPR provide a framework for an evolution in lobbying from shareholder primacy to stakeholder capitalism. Calls on corporations to refocus lobbying and influence strategies on a more transparent, accountable approach.

GO>

How A Framework For Corporate Political Responsibility Can Enhance Business Social And Environmental Sustainability
(Christopher Marquis, 2023): Provides insight on development of the Erb Principles for CPR and outlines three bases for political engagement. Offers scenarios for corporate consideration and action on social and environmental challenges.. 

GO>

When Should Business Take a Stand? 
(Financial Times, 2022): Examines interconnected perils that companies face in a new era of corporate political responsibility. Explores how business leaders are rethinking political involvement and adopting integrated, proactive approaches to corporate political responsibility. 

GO>

How — and When — Should Companies Engage in the Political Process?
(Ed Dolan, Harvard Business Review, 2023): Explores how the Erb Principles for Corporate Political Responsibility offer a comprehensive set of standards to help harmonize free market capitalism and constitutional democracy. Outlines three components of the principles and corporate actions that align with responsible political behavior.   

GO>

External Tools and ​​Frameworks

Highlights other tools and frameworks for operationalizing Corporate Political Responsibility.

Current Trends & Challenges

Spotlight Resource

CPA-Wharton-Zicklin Model Code of Conduct for Political Spending

(Center for Political Accountability, 2021): Provides a set of twelve policies to ensure transparency, accountability and responsibility in companies’ election-related spending. Aligns with the CPA-Zicklin Model Code of Conduct and adds new elements to ensure trade association alignment and consideration of societal impacts.  GO >

OECD Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying 
(OECD, 2013): Focuses on mechanisms for effective implementation of openness, transparency, and integrity in lobbying practices. Provides links to reports on the history of lobbying regulations around the world and how they reinforce CPR principles of legitimacy, responsibility, and transparency.  

GO >

2022 CPA - Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability
(Center for Political Accountability, Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, Wharton, 2022): Offers an authoritative overview of corporate political spending types and current scores for S&P 500 on disclosure, prohibition, and oversight. 

GO >
Under the Radar: The Unrecognized Importance of 527 Committees
(Center for Political Accountability, 2022): Explores the campaign-finance role of 527 committees and how they influence elections. Provides examples of donor-influenced legislation that has reshaped politics and policy.  

GO >
GRI 415: Public Policy 
(Global Reporting Initiative, 2016): Represents Global Reporting Initiative standards related to companies’ public policy management. Requires companies to report on their approach and alignment of political influence activities with stated objectives. 

GO >
Wise Counsel or Dark Arts?
(Transparency International UK, 2015): Offers checklists as a practical tool for assessing and enhancing responsible corporate political engagement, covering various aspects such as political contributions, lobbying practices, stakeholder engagement, and organizational structure. 

GO >
Social Transformation Framework 
(World Benchmarking Alliance, 2021): Benchmarks companies’ progress against the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by outlining and tracking  18 core social indicators (CSIs). Includes one indicator (CSI 18) on corporate political engagement, drawing from Transparency International principles. 

GO >
Net Positive  
(Paul Polman, Andrew Winston, 2021): Introduces the concept of a “net positive business” that contributes more to society than it takes. Outlines “net positive advocacy,” where companies collaborate for policies that support systemic solutions and positive outcomes.  

GO >
The Responsible Lobbying Framework 
(Responsible Lobbying, 2020): Provides five principles to guide companies in using political influence responsibly, including legitimacy, transparency, consistency, accountability, and opportunity. Offers particular detail on transparency, and outlines positive roles for lobbying.  

GO >

Going Further 

Additional resources and background.

Current Trends & Challenges

Freedom in the World
(Yana Gorokhovskaia, Adrian Shahbaz, and Amy Slipowitz, Freedom House, 2023): Reflects on the global struggle for democracy, emphasizing the universal desire for freedom, the resilience of the democracy movement, and the crucial role of human rights defenders in promoting political rights and civil liberties despite challenges and authoritarian regimes. Provides a rubric for evaluating key elements of free societies. 

GO >

Dark Money Illuminated 
(Issue One, 2016): Examines the origins and societal impact of dark money, offering a pioneering database that sheds light on transactions in the shadows. 

GO >

Time to Wake Up
(Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, 2021): Summarizes the Senator’s weekly climate speeches and the need for corporate political responsibility to enable climate policy in Congress. Outlines new options for bipartisan climate solutions with new US Chamber leadership. 

GO >

How the Right and the Left Switched Sides on Big Business
(Conor Fiedersdorf, The Atlantic, 2023): Examines the evolving relationship between conservatives, liberals, and corporations and their influence on social issues. Highlights the complex interplay of state and private power in a free society. 

GO >

It Should Be Mandatory To Disclose Political Influence Seeking And Payoffs From The State—There’s An Evidence Based Reason Why
(Shivaram Rajgopal, Forbes, 2021): Argues for mandatory disclosure of corporate political influence seeking and payoffs, citing evidence of large returns on such investments. Emphasizes transparency as a countermeasure to crony capitalism as state-directed spending grows. 

GO >

To Save the Climate, We Have to Reimagine Capitalism 
(Rebecca Henderson, TED, 2020): Describes how unchecked capitalism destabilizes the environment and harms human health. Urges companies to acknowledge their role in the climate crisis and play a role in fixing it. 

GO >

3 Actions CEOs Must Take to Uphold US Democracy 
(Paul Polman, Harvard Business Review, 2021): Outlines necessary steps businesses must take in corporate political responsibility reform, including ending trade association lobbying, dissolving corporate PACs, and working on legislative reform to reverse Citizens United. 

GO >

How America's Business Leaders Can Better Protect US  Democracy
(Judy Samuelson/Miguel Padro, Quartz, 2022): Proposes three strategies for boards and executives to safeguard US democracy: challenging the narrative of shareholder supremacy by emphasizing contributors to business success, promoting power-sharing and equitable rewards, and reassessing corporate actions that undermine democracy. 

GO >

A Legal Framework for Impact
(PRI, UNEP FI and The Generation Foundation, 2021): Analyzes legal frameworks for investor impact considerations in 11 jurisdictions around the world. Highlights effective sustainability approaches and offers policy recommendations. 

GO >

Fmr Chief Justice Leo E. Strine’s Foreword to 2019 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability 
(Center for Political Accountability, Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, Wharton, 2019) (see pg 7-8). 

GO >

Common Purpose: Realigning Business, Economics & Society
(Colm Kelly & Blair Sheppard, PwC Strategy+ Business, 2017) 

GO >

Financial System Transformation Benchmark
(World Benchmarking Alliance, 2021) 

GO >

Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid
(Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, 2022) 

GO >

The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite
(Mark Mizruchi, 2013) 

GO >

American Schism: How the Two Enlightenments Hold the Secret to Healing Our Nation
(Seth Radwell, 2021) 

GO >

How to Keep Your Corporation Out of the Culture War
(Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, Persuasion, 2021)   

GO >

Promises Kept: The Companies Not Funding Sedition
(Robert Maguire and Caitlin Moniz, CREW, 2022) 

GO >

Why Policy Should Be Part of Your Net-Zero Climate Strategy 
(Heather Clancy, GreenBiz, 2021) 

GO >

Why Is Governing No Longer Good Politics?
(Fix US, 2021) 

GO >

Executives Seeking Caps On Donations Stand Strong
(Don van Natta Jr., New York Times, 1999) 

GO >

Cronyism: Undermining Economic Freedom and Prosperity Around the World
(James Roberts, Heritage Foundation, 2010) 

GO >

2022 Survey of Investors, Retirement Savings and ESG
(Hoover Institution, 2023) 

GO >

Investors Want to Hear from Companies About the Value of Sustainability (Gelb et al, McKinsey, 2023)
(Gelb et al, McKinsey, 2023) 

GO >

CEO Action for Racial Equity
(CEO Action, PwC) 

GO >

Tools & Proposed Solutions

Converging on Climate Lobbying
(PRI, 2018): Discusses the significance of corporate engagement in climate policy, outlining challenges and benefits for investors. Provides practical guidelines and case studies to encourage further engagement. 

GO >

Responsible Political Engagement: Stewardship Practices and Challenges
(PRI, 2022): Explores how investors leverage political engagement for sustainability progress, evaluating its alignment with long-term interests and responsible investment goals. Offers insights into identification, integration, and challenges associated with political engagement. 

GO >

Towards Responsible Lobbying
(Simon Zadek, United Nations Global Compact, 2005) 

GO >

Business for Rule of Law Framework
(United Nations Global Compact, 2015) 

GO >

Finding the Middle Ground in a Politically Polarized World
(Craig Smith and Daniel Korschun, MIT Sloan, 2018) 

GO >

Stakeholder Capitalism and ESG: A Guide for Communication Leaders
(Arthur W. Page Society, 2022) 

GO >

2021 CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity
(PolicyLink, 2021) 

GO >