Amazon.com and Google are the least transparent of the technology giants, according to a report from anti-corruption pressure group Transparency International.
A report published by the group today ranks the world’s 105 largest publicly-listed businesses according to three measures of transparency: reporting on anti-corruption measures, operational transparency, and whether they reported financial performance on country by country basis.
Transparency International argues that reporting on anti-corruption initiatives – such as anti-corruption training and whistleblowing channels – “underscorces a commitment to countering corruption and enhances ethical conduct … throughout the value chain.”
Amazon.com scored just 27% on this measure, one of the lowest scores on the table. Google scored 33%, alongside Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco.
The ‘operational transparency’ measure assessed how much information companies gave about their financial subsidiaries. “Disclosure of corporate holdings shines a light on corporate practice when it comes to such issues as intra-company payments, government payments and transparency in general,” it said.
Amazon.com scored 50% for operational transparency and Google scored 55% – both below average.
The third measure was country-by-country reporting. “In the absence of country-by-country reporting, the local public is unaware of how much profit such operations generate and what, if any, special arrangements their governments may have entered into with multinational companies,” the report said.
On this measure Amazon.com scored 6%, while Google – like most of the companies included in the table – scored 0%.
Amazon.com’s combined score was 2.8 out of a possible 10.0, placing 99th out of 105. Google ranked 95th, with a score of 2.9.
European telecommunications companies scored well in general, with France Telecom, Vodafone, Telefonica all in the top 20. German applications giant SAP was above average with a score of 5.8, but the US technology giants – including IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle all ranked in the bottom third.
When it came to organisational transpaerncy, “the technology industry received the worst average result of 53%,” the report reveals. “Only the two non-US based companies, SAP and Samsung, performed highly.”
Transparency Intenational urged multinational corporations to be more transparent about their anti-corruption measures. “Public reporting on anti-corruption commitments increases credibility and accountability: it sends a strong and clear message to stakeholders, gives support to employees, and enhances anti-corruption efforts,” it said.
It also argued that business should disclose all their financial subsidiaries – even if they are too small to be considered ‘material’ to their overall performance. “A subsidiary operating in a developing country in which tax collection is a major problem often does not meet the ‘materiality’ criteria of a big multinational company, although the scale of its operations is significant to the local population”.