Accountability report puts Cargill under the spotlight

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cargill

Cargill’s accountability record has come under scrutiny in a new report which assesses the performance of some of the world’s most powerful corporate, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

Cargill was ranked in 24th place overall and in seventh place out of ten transnational corporations in the 2008 The Global Accountability Report, compiled by an independent think tank called One World Trust.

The aim of the report, now in its third year, is to broaden understanding of and commitment to common principles of accountability among global players from all sectors.

It looks at their policies and systems according to four “widely accepted dimensions of accountability”​; transparency, participation, evaluation and complaint and response mechanisms.

The report said: “As the world’s largest trader in grains, Cargill’s activities affect millions. Yet, as one of the world’s largest privately held corporations, Cargill is not legally required to disclose information on its governance structures or operations, and in practice, provides little such information in the public sphere.

“Given the company’s dominant position within the global food supply system, basic information about its governance, who makes decisions, when and how is essential.

“In order for key stakeholders, including agricultural production communities and grain product consumers, to hold Cargill to account for its activities and commitments, Cargill needs to provide the public with sufficient information about its activities and decisions.”

The Trust said Cargill, which operates in 67 countries and has annual gross profit of $3.64bn, engaged in the research process for the report providing it with sufficient information to score the corporation on its internal governance.

However, it added that the average stakeholder would not receive this information.

In its performance assessment of Cargill, the report concluded: “Although Cargill often lacks written policies and commitments to key good practice principles, it consistently has leadership and training which support practice in all four dimensions of accountability capabilities.

“Furthermore, Cargill’s member control is fairly equitable and its transparency capabilities are above the corporate sector average.”

The accountability initiatives Cargill has signed up to include a roundtable on sustainable palm oil and sustainable soy.

Accountability drive

The report said that privately held companies such as Cargill currently have little incentive to change and need to be pushed to enhance their transparency capabilities.

Michael Hammer, executive director of One World Trust, said: “Organizations need to look at accountability as an opportunity rather than a problem. It can, for instance, make powerful organizations more effective.”

Other organizations featured in the report include Unilever, which was ranked 18th overall.

Meanwhile the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which is the worldwide umbrella group for the organic agriculture movement that develops organic agriculture standards, topped the ranking for accountability.

One World Trust says it conducts research, develops recommendations and advocates for reform to make policy and decision making processes in global governance more accountable to the people they affect.

Cargill was unable to provide a comment ahead of publication.

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