The Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability, named 145 companies to its sixth annual selection of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies, 17 of which are retailers.
In the retail food stores category are Safeway, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market, SONAE of Portugal, Kesko of Finland and the U.K.’s The Co-operative Group. Named in the general retail category are Costco, Target and the U.K.’s Marks and Spencer. In the specialty retail category are Best Buy, OfficeMax, Petco and Ten Thousand Villages, and in the apparel category Gap, Patagonia, Timberland and Comme Il Fau of Israel were recognized.
This year’s list covers more than three dozen industries, from aerospace to wind power, with 43 of the WME winners headquartered outside the U.S. Each 2012 honoree was chosen for promoting ethical business standards and practices by exceeding legal minimums for compliance, introducing innovative ideas that benefit the public and forcing their competitors to follow suit, according to Ethisphere Institute.
They demonstrate how corporate citizenship is undoubtedly tied to the success of a company’s brand and bottom line. “Each year the competition for World’s Most Ethical Companies intensifies as the number of nominations submitted for consideration grows,” said Alex Brigham, executive director of Ethisphere.
“This year’s winners know that a strong ethics program is a key component to a successful business model, and they continue to scrutinize their ethical standards to keep up with an ever-changing regulatory environment. Corporate ethics has become much more important globally, as well, and that is reflected in the truly global nature of this year’s honorees.”
Twenty-three companies have been honored each of the six years the WME has been awarded, including Patagonia and Starbucks. The evaluation and selection process for the WME Companies is based on a proprietary rating system, the corporate Ethics Quotient, consisting of five core categories — Ethics and Compliance Program (25 percent), Reputation, Leadership and Innovation (20 percent), Governance (10 percent), Corporate Citizenship and Responsibility (25 percent) and Culture of Ethics (20 percent). New York City-based Ethisphere Institute is dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability.