The World's Most Ethical Companies

Last Updated Jun 11, 2008 5:12 PM EDT

ethosphere.gifWhat does it mean to be named to Ethisphere's list of the World's Most Ethical Companies? Well, it's been a week since the list was announced, and those companies who were honored followed through on a topic I discussed in a recent post -- they sold their ethics. They're doing the right thing and being recognized for it, so they're capitalizing on this honor by letting the increasingly ethics-conscious public know about it. Smart.

What else does it mean? Profits. As I mentioned yesterday, companies that behave ethically routinely outperform their shady competitors. The companies named to the Ethisphere list are crushing the S & P 500.

So how do you get on this list? Well, you act ethically. You do the right thing. You bring about ideas that will expand the public well being. This is the no-brainer part.

But no company is an angel. All companies take a hit for bad practices at one time or another. I've even questioned some on the list (see Starbucks' tip dilemma). But what separates these companies from the rest, as Ethisphere so eloquently puts it, is that they respond to a crisis "not with a PR campaign, but with real action, such as complete transparency for the public and significant effort given to fixing the core problem."

Everyone does the wrong thing sometimes. Responding with the right thing is how you reclaim your ethics.

  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.