With an ever more savvy and conscientious employee, the best companies are showcasing not only what they are doing to improve their bottom line, but what they are doing to conduct business with high standards and make the world a better place.
The most ethical companies have responsibility at the heart of their purpose and values and feel it is their responsibility to do their best to make the world a better place. So it’s no small feat that an infinitely complex, ever-expanding, global organization like Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has been formally recognized as one of the 2016 World’s Most Ethical Companies (WME), a distinction that this year was granted to only 130 companies in 21 countries worldwide. And RCL is one of only two businesses that earned the top honor in the category of Lodging, Leisure & Recreation.
The WME program and the organization that created it, the Ethisphere Institute, are in their 10th year of assessing corporate ethical standards and shining light on those who excel at “the trust factor.”
The honor comes with more than bragging rights.
“Our 2015 analysis of the stock performance of public companies honored as World’s Most Ethical confirms what we’ve long believed,” said Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich. “There may be a premium to be earned by investing in companies in the WME index.”
In accepting the award for the first time, RCL Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain directed credit to the company’s employees:
“This recognition would not be possible without our more than 60,000 employees, who are committed to operating with the highest ethical standards and have a passion for doing the right thing.”
Using what it calls the Ethics Quotient, Ethisphere scores companies in five key areas – their ethics and compliance programs, for 35 percent of the score; corporate citizenship and responsibility, 20 percent; culture of ethics, 20 percent; governance, 15 percent; and leadership, innovation and reputation, 10 percent.
“I think we really pride ourselves on our strong foundation,” said Karen Benson, RCL director of Global Compliance and Ethics. “We’ve got four core values in our organization, and these are really what drive the culture of compliance – honesty, fairness, integrity and trust.”
While the tone is set at the top of RCL governance, Benson said, the day-to-day work of maintaining the highest standards covers and can be as granular as RCL employee reporting a conflict of interest because a relative works for a vendor.
To keep up, Benson said, all employees receive ongoing training and lines of communication with her department are always open.
“We want employees to have that moral compass and make sure that they can at least identify when there could be an issue so they can use the resource that the company makes available to guide them,” she explained.
And having a “strong moral compass” is perhaps as good a definition of ethics as any.