Kellogs, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Nike are a few of the companies named to the 2008 list of World’s Most Ethical Companies. Ethisphere magazine takes its ethics seriously and its annual list of companies, even moreso. The World’s Most Ethical Companies are the ones that “go above and beyond legal minimums, bring about innovative new ideas to expand the public well being, work on reducing their carbon footprint, and respond to lawsuits not with a PR campaign, but with real action, such as complete transparency and significant effort toward fixing the core problem.

And, apparently it pays to be ethical. Companies on the Most Ethical list consistently outperform the S&P 500. Find the 2008 list and methodology here.


  1. Who is behind this website? Their rank has little credibility to me. How can McDonalds be one of the most ethical companies? Those companies should realize that to really gain consumers’ trust they should be transparent with them. Being ethical means being honest first of all. The Ethisphere website is just another lie.

  2. I was under the impression that Nike had a lot of sweat shops under its name. If that’s true, how to these sweatshops effect Nike’s ethicality? Are they paying their workers more than usual sweatshops and treating them humanely?

  3. I don’t know about the ethical qualities or inequities of the companies quoted other than what I’ve seen posted here and what common sense allows. What I would be careful of however is judging success as being possible only in an environment of ruthlessness and ethical compromise. In today?s world of suspicion and moral collapse, it?s easy to suspect that any organization that does well manages it only on the backs of others.

  4. Thiat, TwoFalls, is exactly what I believe and the reason that I specifically mentioned NIKE in the summary I did. At one time Nike did have problems. The other problem is how people think that will never change — and has never changed. Companies, even big ones learn and grow — just like people.

    A quick search of this site turned up these Nike related good deeds:

    12 international companies including Nike, IBM and Sony joined in a Climate Savers Program to cut emissions by 7 % by 2010.

    NIKE Donates Shoes to Every Teen in New Orleans

    Nike is jumping on the organic cotton bandwagon

    Sony Joins Nike Cutting 10M Tons of Global Warming Gases

    On the sweatshops issue: In business week, from 2004

    “Unlike giants such as Wal-Mart, it now has a system to inspect — and try to improve — working conditions at supplier factories

    For many years, Nike has been a lightning rod for criticism about sweatshop labor conditions in the low-wage countries that produce its sneakers. When Nike was getting pummeled on the subject in the 1990s, it typically responded with anger and panic.

    Since then, Nike has constructed an elaborate program to deal with labor issues in the 900-odd supplier factories (none owned by Nike) that churn out its products in some 50 countries. Today, a staff of 97 inspects several hundred factories a year, grades them on labor standards, and works with managers to improve problems. Nike also allows random factory inspections by the Fair Labor Assn. (FLA), a monitoring outfit founded by human rights groups and companies such as Nike, Reebok (RBK ), and Liz Claiborne (LIZ ).

    Redemption and overcoming odds is what this site is all about. McDonald’s and Nike are examples of redemption. Before you believe the stereotypes, make sure you know the good side as well. (McD’s also bowed to pressure recently to help save hedgehogs who were getting stuck in their packaging, and to forest activists when it stopped ordering its products from companies who were deforesting lands in order to create a cooking oil that was in demand.

  5. It’s interesting to see McDonald’s on there seeing as there are so many food companies who have gone out of their way since their inception to produce healthy, delicious food. This survey is obviously considering the scope and reach of companies who market to the masses. I’m still having a hard time stomaching McDonald’s though…npi.

  6. Weill done Geri!! I applaud your defence of the likes of Nike and McDonalds. I, too am surprised to see them on that list but if they ARE making steps towards social and environmental responsibility, then they should be recognised and encouraged for doing so. Every journey starts with a step, and we need to appreciate and recognise every step taken towards good – by people or corporations. Encouragement and praise can surely only facilitate more change.

  7. Excellent comment, Kimeez. It describes the very heart of the good news philosophy and why this endeavour and others like it are so important. Encouragement over sarcasm, praising instead of disparaging, when steps are taken to improve.

    It’s just like if you have a kid and he does something wrong. Do you keep reminding them of that until you”ve brandished them with a label for life? That is a huge trap parents may fall prey to, leading to the detriment of the kid.

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