2019 World’s Most Ethical Announced

Ethisphere announced its 2019 list of World’s Most Ethical Companies today. Corporate compliance officers can now prepare for a barrage of emails from the CEO and board asking, “Why aren’t WE on that list???”

This year 128 companies around the world are on that list, hailing from 21 countries and 50 industries. We can’t name all 128 winners here, but we can call out the eight companies that have placed on the WME list every year since Ethisphere started it in 2007. They are:

  • Aflac
  • Fluor Corp.
  • International Paper Co.
  • Milliken
  • Pepsico
  • Ecolab
  • Kao
  • Texas Instruments

For anyone keeping score, that means Deere & Co., General Electric, Starbucks, and Xerox Corp. fell off the WME for the first time ever this year. Why? We don’t know. Perhaps other ethical newcomers crowded them off the list, or perhaps those four made specific missteps that pushed them downward. (GE’s strategic and governance blunders are no secret, for example.) Regardless, spare a thought for those CCOs and the conversations they’re having with superiors.

Ethisphere compiles its World’s Most Ethical list by having companies complete a detailed survey of their ethical values, business practices, corporate governance, and the like. That generates a lot of data worth studying, and eventually Ethisphere will publish a report on that information — but alas, that report isn’t ready today.

That report will be subject of discussion at Ethisphere’s Global Ethics Summit happening next month in New York City, an event worth attending for ethics professionals. I’ll be there, looking for insight and free food.

Ethisphere did, however, release an updated chart of its “Ethics Premium.” That’s the better stock performance of WME companies compared to large companies overall. As you can see, WME companies outpaced everyone else by 10.5 percent over the last three years.  


One can’t help but notice, however — see that dip in the green bar, about one-quarter inward from February 2016, when the ethical premium turned negative? Hmmm, would that have happened around November 2016? Anything in particular happen that month that some might call a step backward for ethics? I wonder.

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