The openness revolution

The Economist: “Business is being forced to open up in a host of reporting areas, from tax and government contracts to anti-corruption and sustainability programmes. Campaigners are cock-a-hoop, but continue to demand more. Executives are starting to ask whether the revolution is in danger of going too far.
Three forces are driving change. First, governments are demanding greater corporate accountability in the wake of the global financial crisis. No longer is ending corporate secrecy—the sharp end of which is money-laundering shell companies—an agenda pushed merely by Norway and a few others; it has become a priority for the G20. Second, investigative journalists have piled in. A recent example is the exposure by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists of sweetheart tax deals for multinationals in Luxembourg. The third factor is the growing sophistication of NGOs in this sphere, such as Transparency International (TI) and Global Witness. “Twenty years ago our work seemed an impossible dream. Now it’s coming true,” says Ben Elers of TI.
TI recently published its latest study on corporate reporting, which evaluated 124 big publicly listed companies, based on the clarity of their anti-corruption programmes, their corporate holdings and their financial reporting. Four-fifths of them scored less than five out of ten overall, but there were big regional disparities: seven of the ten most open firms were European; eight of the ten most clammed-up were Asian (see table)….