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Openly: The world-first accreditation championing corporate integrity

A recent Ipsos survey of over 1000 people reported that 72 percent feel it is extremely important for businesses to be open and honest when it comes to government engagement. Openly is working to make this easier and holding companies accountable.

Openly is a world-first accreditation and education platform that champions corporations to integrity when interacting with the government.

“The heart of Openly is around disclosure and the accreditation is about corporations disclosing a set of data and that relates to who their lobbyists are, if they have any government contracts, what industry associations they’re members of, what their advocacy positions are, have they made any political donations, that type of thing,” says Founder Nick Booth.

“It’s all about being on the front foot and helping corporations be entirely transparent and ethical. And it is basically allowing corporations to say, ‘Yes, we engage with government’.”

Booth first came up with the idea of Openly after nearly 20 years of working in the tobacco industry where he witnessed and was very aware of what corporate government interaction was like.

He says during his tenure in the industry he saw significant policy challenges but these were overshadowed by the increase of corporate integrity scandals when it came to company and government interaction.

“That’s really the genesis because I thought good interaction in this space means good public policy that is good for people, planet and business,” he adds.

“I wanted to be able to facilitate that to help corporations perhaps improve their practices in the space, unlock that sustainable value and manage risk.”

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The idea of Openly comes at a time where it is fundamental for democracy to do better but also unlocking the value when it comes to consumers choosing who they want to invest in, purchase from and work for.

Ipsos’ survey revealed that 66 percent of Kiwis are more likely to invest in companies that are independently verified when it comes to transparency about government engagements. Sixty-two percent say they will buy from them.

“The Ipsos research reflects what sort of behaviour New Zealanders expect from companies that engage government,” adds Booth.

“This research shows that New Zealanders are ascribing value to corporate conduct in government engagement – we can see that investors and consumers will reward good behaviour and punish bad.”

How Openly works is split into two elements: accreditation and education.

The accreditation element will be complimenting the existing ESG process answering a series of questions relating to an organisations interactions with the government and getting this attested by the Openly board.

The education element focuses on training directors, senior leaders and more with tools, framework and confidence to undertake interaction with the government with integrity.

As society continues to evolve, Openly has an advisory board to help evolve its system and includes former Speaker of the House, Sir David Carter, lobbyist Holly Bennett and many more.

Openly is set to properly launch in 2024, with Booth saying this is a growing space. 

“This is something no one else is doing.”

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