Countering the image of a corporate world knocked by the financial crisis, a US think-tank names the 'world's most ethical companies', among them breakfast cereal firm Kellogg.
Now in its third year, Ethisphere ranked ninety-nine firms as 'making the cut' from over 10,000 nominations. Joining Kellogg's on the list are other food giants such as France's Danone, US drinks behemoth PepsiCo and anglo-dutch food group Unilever.
"Acting ethically and with respect is core to our company's heritage and identity," said Neil Nyberg, vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer at Kellogg.
The financial crisis and a deepening recession have fuelled consumer criticism of the corporate world, particularly in the United States. Ethisphere's 2009 listing, that highlights the ethical credentials and best practise for a range of firms operating across the globe today, could arguably serve to temper such criticism.
"Kellogg recognises that being ethical is not only the right thing to do, it is also good business practice and leads to more successful and profitable operations," said Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute.
Methodology and criteria for the ethical list
A methodology committee of lawyers, professors, government officials and organisation leaders, assisted Ethisphere in creating the scoring methodology for the awards, says the organisation.
Ethisphere conducted data analyses on hundreds of companies based on their responses to a survey regarding their ethics and compliance programme, governance and corporate responsibility, as well as documents and information “researched and requested by Ethisphere to confirm survey responses”.
Each company was then given an EQ score based on the results of the survey and measured against seven distinct categories: corporate citizenship and responsibility; corporate governance; innovation that contributes to the public well being; industry leadership; executive leadership and 'tone from the top'; legal, regulatory and reputation track record; and internal systems and ethics/compliance programme.
Each category had a different percentage weighting with ‘corporate citizenship and responsibility’ representing 20 per cent, and ‘legal, regulatory and reputation track’ also holding 20 per cent.
‘Internal systems and ethics/compliance programme’, ‘innovation that contributes to the public well being’ and ‘executive leadership and tone from the top' all held 15 per cent a piece, with corporate governance representing 10 per cent. Five per cent went to industry leadership.
According to Ethisphere, twenty companies dropped off the list from last year, and twenty-five companies were newcomers. Forty-four companies have made the list three years running.