GE, Starbucks Make ‘Most Ethical’ List; Patagonia, Best Buy Drop Off

by | Mar 7, 2013

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Patagonia and Rabobank have fallen off the World’s Most Ethical Companies list after six straight years, while General Electric, Starbucks and American Express are among the 15 organizations to make the list for seven years running.

First-time recipients Visa and Sherwin-Williams also made Ethisphere’s 2013 list, which includes 138 companies, down from 145 companies that made the 2012 list. Forty of this year’s winners are from outside the US.

The annual list highlights companies that outperform industry peers in ethical behavior. Ethisphere reviews companies using its proprietary rating system called the Ethics Quotient, which is comprised of a series of multiple-choice questions. The US-based think-tank than further narrows the list by reviewing corporations’ codes of ethics and litigation and regulatory infraction histories, as well as sustainable business practices.

Despite fewer companies making the cut this year, Ethisphere executive director Alex Brigham says more companies than ever before applied.

In addition to Patagonia and Rabobank, Kimpton Hotels, Timberland, Costco, Best Buy and Stonyfield are some of the big names that have dropped off the list.

Last month, Patagonia announced that this fall it will launch a two-year responsible economy campaign aimed at finding new measures of success that do not depend on selling more goods and services. Last year, the company became the first company in California to elect to be a “benefit corporation.” The legal status affords a company’s directors legal cover to consider environmental and social benefits over financial returns.

In July 2012, Timberland won Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Forum award for its sustainability reporting and its online sustainability portal. The judges praised the portal’s transparency, interactivity and quarterly updates.

General Electric ranked No. 5 on the SMI-Wizness Social Media Sustainability Index 2012, an annual review analyzing how major companies use social media to communicate sustainability and corporate social responsibility, which was published last month. Ebay — which also made the 2013 Most Ethical Companies List — took third place.

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