Saturday, February 6, 2010

The World’s 12 Least Ethical Companies

Recently, I came across an article in the Huffington Post with a list of the 12 least ethical companies in the world. It caught my attention because in several of my classes, we are currently discussing the importance of using ethics in the field of public relations, whether in research, pitching, or other business practices. The largest reason for the article gaining my attention however is due to my curiosity regarding how the ethics of companies can be measured.

Covalence, a Swiss research team released its annual ranking of the ethical performances of corporations worldwide. In order to measure the ethics of these corporations, Covalence compiled 7 years' worth of data from 581 companies with criteria that includes labor standards, waste management, media, and human rights records.

The three most ethical companies were IBM, Intel, and HSBC. However, Covalence found that the list of biggest offenders had some usual suspects and even a few surprises.

Here are a few offenders from the list:

Number 9: Total: French oil & Gas Company accused of building a pipeline with the aid of slave labor in Myanmar. Additionally, in 1999, Erika, one of the company’s oil tankers, sunk on the coast of Brittany. Later, the French court asked the company to compensate for the victims of the spill.

Number 7: Ryanair: Michael O’Leary, CEO of Irish budget airline Ryanair, is known for his temperamental behavior and aggressive cost-cutting measures. Employees of the company are reportedly forbidden from using the company’s pens or charging their cell phones with its electricity. He was also accused of yelling and cursing at a customer whose relative had fallen ill and wanted a refund.

Number 5: Phillip Morris International Inc.: One of the world’s leading cigarette companies, Phillip Morris reportedly attempted to persuade the government to abandon its ten-year-old lawsuit against the tobacco industry for allegedly concealing the dangers of cigarettes.

Want to know the top three ranked least ethical companies in the world? Make sure you check out the rest of the article in the Huffington Post!

What do you think about Covalence’s list? Are there any companies you’re surprised you didn’t see among the ranks? Let us know what you think!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Niki Ianni.

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