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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation

What Makes the World’s Most Ethical Companies Stand Out?

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Want to peek inside the doors of the most ethical companies in the world? Here’s your chance.

Ethisphere just released its “Actionable Insights” whitepaper which is based upon responses to its 2015 Ethics Quotient survey. The survey helps also determine the group’s World’s Most Ethical Companies (WMEC’s) list.

Ethisphere used the information it collected collect and cross-referenced WMEC honorees against other companies in the data set, as well as past winners.  Though these are powerhouse corporations (Aflac, Microsoft, Google, Visa, etc.), there are solid, basic practices that can be extrapolated and applied to your firm.

The whitepaper is broken into four main topic areas:

  1. Next Practices – The evolution of compliance and ethics programs
  2. Data the board and executive management should see
  3. Governance and transparency driving trust among employees, owners and the public
  4. Measuring up? Understanding your company’s culture and the evolution of your compliance program

Numerous nuggets are contained throughout the report, which is a compelling and fascinating read. The prevailing trend is that while many ‘non-WMEC’ companies are likely employing similar practices, WMECs are handling issues more comprehensively and frequently – and with better collaboration and communication.

The Ethics Quotient survey indicates that WMECs excel in the following areas:

  • More likely to collaborate across functions in developing more targeted and efficient training, and communicating across the global enterprise
  • More frequently incent employees who engage in ethical conduct and/or actively support compliance initiatives more frequently
  • Codify aspects of their programs and processes more often and, thus, are more likely to stay abreast of changing norms and practices.
  • More likely to allocate resources, and a wider range of resources, to middle managers in order to encourage and assist them in more effectively communicating on the importance of acting ethically and addressing staff questions and behavior

When it comes to handling governance within a company, WMECs are:

  • More likely to include the person with day-today operational authority for the compliance and ethics program in Board communications
  • More likely to formally assess compliance and ethics risks, to do so more frequently and to incorporate a wider variety of inputs and methodologies into their assessments.

Additionally, WMECs tend to evaluate their compliance programs very broadly and the research also found that they are twice as likely vs. non-honorees to conduct reviews annually. WMECs are “more likely to include perceptions of the compliance program in their culture assessments, but also report more positive results from these assessments.”

No surprise, the WMECs will also evaluate their culture more frequently, and the study says that they are “twice as likely to conduct annual, documented evaluations or benchmarking of their compliance and ethics programs versus non-honorees.”

The honored companies are not the type to become complacent either. Since the 2013 survey, the WMECS had significant increases in key areas in 2015 including development of multiple-year training curriculum; compliance and ethics communications plans; and overall programs to increase employee communication.

No matter the size of your firm, there is much to learn from the business world’s ethics leaders.