Harry Stevens is a freelance reporter covering climate change, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and sustainable finance. Harry has contributed to several media outlets, including Justmeans, GreenBiz, SocialEarth, and Sustainablog. You can follow Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Stevens...
World's Most Ethical Companies Announced; Most Competitive List Yet
The Ethisphere Institute has announced its seventh annual World's Most Ethical Companies, a list that recognizes 138 companies for demonstrating leadership in setting ethical business standards. Ethisphere asks companies to nominate themselves for the prestigious designation, and this year thousands of companies were evaluated, making it the most competitive year yet.
"Not only did more companies apply for the 'World's Most Ethical Companies' recognition this year than any year in the past, which demonstrates that ethical activity is an important part of many of these companies' business models, but we are also seeing more companies be proactive and create new initiatives that expand ethics programs and cultures across entire industries, such as industry-based ethics associations and other activities," said Alex Brigham, Executive Director of the Ethisphere Institute, an organization dedicated to the developing of best practices in business ethics.
This year's list covers more than three dozen industries and includes companies from Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Ethisphere also evaluated African-based companies, but none met the requirements for recognition.
"The World's Most Ethical Companies are leaders of their respective industries when it comes to key ethical criteria such as tone from the top, employee well-being, CSR, compliance programs, and other important areas," said Brigham.
The methodology for the World's Most Ethical Companies list includes scrutinizing codes of ethics, litigation and regulatory infraction histories; examining the investment in innovation and sustainable business practices; assessing activities designed to improve corporate citizenship; and looking at nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers and customers.
Several major U.S. corporations are represented on the list, including Ecolab Inc., a St. Paul, Minn.-based global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies. Ecolab has been included on the list every year of its publication.
"Every day Ecolab's 41,000 associates strive to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier," said Douglas M. Baker, Jr., Ecolab chairman and chief executive officer. "This purpose guides us to manage our global operations with integrity and care for the health, safety and prosperity of our associates, customers, communities and the environment."
Ecolab pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent per dollar of sales by the end of 2012 from a 2006 baseline. The company is yet to publish a 2012 sustainability report, but by the close of 2011 Ecolab had already achieved a 19 percent reduction. Ecolab is also an active corporate philanthropist, its foundation having donated nearly $7 million to community partners across the United States in 2012.
Also making the Ethisphere list for the seventh straight time is Johnson Controls, a global diversified company in the building and automotive industries.
"Johnson Controls is honored to be named one of the world's most ethical companies," said Jerry Okarma, vice president, secretary and general counsel for Johnson Controls. "This recognition is a tribute to our 170,000 employees around the world, recognizing their commitment to customer satisfaction, sustainability and integrity."
Among the company's myriad sustainability initiatives is the Conservation Leadership Corps, a global philanthropy program that focuses the company's values of environmental stewardship, leadership development and diversity to develop local youth and make a positive impact on local communities where Johnson Controls does business.
A complete list can be found at m1.ethisphere.com/wme2013/index.html.