Business ethics list includes good news, bad news for Minnesotans

Seven companies with strong Minnesota ties are among 99 firms named as “The World’s Most Ethical Companies” by New York-based Ethisphere Institute, a self-described “leading international think-tank” that focuses on best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability.

The companies with Minnesota connections are: American Express, Best Buy, Ecolab, General Mills, Honeywell International, Target and Thomson Reuters.

The selection process started with reputation-savvy companies nominating themselves, followed by questionnaires weighted across seven different factors:

• Corporate citizenship and responsibility, 20 percent,
• Legal, regulatory and reputation track record, 20 percent,
• Executive leadership and tone from the top, 15 percent,
• Internal systems and ethics/compliance program, 15 percent,
• Innovation that contributes to public well-being, 15 percent,
• Corporate governance, 10 percent,
• Industry leadership, 5 percent.

General Mills’ approach to adapting its ethics programs to the different regions in which the company operates was among five companies highlighted by Ethisphere.

To help its employees learn from prior real-world decisions — both good and bad — General Mills developed a feature on its company Intranet that uses real examples that came from the company’s Ethics Line.

“We continually look for opportunities to incorporate real stories from our history to bring to life our heritage of integrity and to respond to that feeling of pride we all have in working for General Mills,” said Roderick Palmore, the company’s general counsel.

“A strong ethics and compliance program must feel culturally relevant to employees,” he said. “A program that genuinely reflects the culture and values of a company helps employees understand and incorporate the messages of the program into their daily decisions. Employees experience them as part of the very fabric of the company’s culture.”

Petters makes list of ‘Top 10 We Won’t Miss’
Tom Petters is the only Minnesotan named to the same organization’s year-end list of “2009’s Top 10 People We Won’t Miss.”

“Influence isn’t only brought about by positive actions [but] sometimes unintended improvement comes from ethical missteps,” the organization said. The Bronx cheer was attached to Ethisphere’s year-end list of 100 individuals who “had significant (positive) impact in the realm of business ethics over the course of the year.”

Petters’ conviction on 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering in his $3 billion Ponzi scheme put him on the list of those “that have influenced business ethics through professional flubs.”

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 01/05/2010 - 03:50 pm.

    American Express is based in New York. Why are you including them on your list?

  2. Submitted by Brad Allen on 01/15/2010 - 10:01 am.

    As I indicated in the article, I listed comapnies that have significant presence in Minnesota. American Express has a major operation in Minneapolis with a significant employee presence here.

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