2022 World’s Most Ethical Announced

Ethisphere announced its 2022 list of World’s Most Ethical Companies today. Corporate ethics and compliance officers know what that means: a barrage of emails from the CEO and board asking, “Why aren’t we on that list???”

This year Ethisphere honored 136 companies from 22 countries and across 45 industries. We can’t name all 136 here (the complete list is on the Ethisphere website), but that is one more than the 135 honored in 2021. We should also note the six companies that have been on the WME Companies list all 16 years of its existence. They are:

  • Aflac
  • Ecolab
  • International Paper Co.
  • Kao Corp.
  • Milliken & Co.
  • Pepsico

These same six companies were the only ones who made the all-time list in 2021, too. Once upon a time that list of all-timers was longer, but the more time passes, the fewer companies endure on the WME list year after year. 

Who’s new to the list in 2022? Fourteen companies, as follows:

  • Apple
  • Brown-Forman
  • Cementos Argos
  • Firmenich
  • Hrvatski Telekom
  • Lincoln Financial Group
  • Magna
  • Marsh McLennan
  • Micron Technology
  • NW Natural Holdings
  • Pfizer
  • Tenneco
  • U.S. Steel
  • Western Union

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. I’m not privy to all the details the survey solicits, but this year Ethisphere had its usual questions of late related to the pandemic, ESG, and cybersecurity; as well as new questions around risk assessment and more detailed questions about key impact assessment processes. 

That generates a lot of data worth studying, and typically Ethisphere publishes one or more reports based on that information. No such reports are available right now, but we’ll watch to see what Ethisphere might release later in the year.

For cynics out there who say devotion to ethics doesn’t bring any extra financial return, please note that Ethisphere calculated what it calls “the Ethics Premium” — the stock performance of publicly traded WME 2022 winners over the last five years, versus a general large cap index over the same five years. This year’s winners outperformed that large-cap average group by 24.6 percent over the last five years. See Figure 1, below.

The WME companies will be feted at a virtual reception Ethisphere is hosting on April 12 (with actor Matthew McConaughey as a guest speaker, among others). Congratulations to all the winners.

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