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March 20, 2012
Ethisphere Awards 145 Companies for Ethical Performance
    by Robert Kropp

The annual World's Most Ethical Companies Rankings include 23 companies that have been honored in each of the six years of the award.

The methodology of the Ethisphere Institute's sixth annual World's Most Ethical Companies Rankings reveals that companies are graded according to five categories.

The most heavily weighted of them are corporate ethics and compliance programs and corporate citizenship and responsibility—each of which accounts for one-quarter of a company's score—followed closely by reputation, leadership, and innovation and culture of ethics at 20% each. Governance accounts for the final 10% of a company's score.

The Institute begins its process with a 36-page questionna ire, in which companies report on their own activities relevant to each of the categories. The subjective nature of such responses is balanced by information on awards from other organizations, as well as the presence of a corporation on sustainable stock indexes.

The survey "results simply help us to narrow the number of entrants to the top percentile of performers in each industry," the Institute states. "Additional due diligence efforts…may include multiple means of verification as needed and warranted, including independent research, request for documentation supporting select answers and/or interviews with company leadership."

This year, 145 organizations from more than three dozen industry sectors were honored, the largest number of honorees since the awards were established in 2007. The honorees were selected from a record number of nominations and applications. Forty-three of this year's honorees are headquartered outside the US.

The 23 companies that have been honored in each of the six years of the award include Aflac, American Express, Fluor, General Electric, Milliken & Company, Patagonia, Rabobank and Starbucks.

"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," said Alex Brigham, Executive Director of Ethisphere.

To promote ethical behavior by corporations as an ongoing process, the Institute provides Ethics Inside Certification, an independent verification program for corporate ethics and compliance programs and practices. "All applicants are provided with detailed reports as to how their programs measure up," the Institute states, "Including suggestions and guidelines for improvement."

Old National Bank, the only US-based banking institution to be ranked among the Most Ethical Companies this year, has received the Ethics Inside Certification for the past three years.


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