It should be noted right up front that this gets harder every year. So the third time may not necessarily be a charm, but an indication that Royal Caribbean keeps getting better, which is to say, even more ethical as time goes on.
For the third year in a row, RCL has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. It’s one of only 135 businesses so honored in 2018, and the only one cited in the Leisure & Recreation category.
“While the discourse around the world changed profoundly in 2017, a stronger voice emerged,” says Timothy Erblich, CEO of Ethisphere, a global leader in defining and advancing ethical business practices. “Global corporations operating with a common rule of law are now society’s strongest force to improve the human condition.”
In house, Royal Caribbean distilled all that and its own mission in just three words: Make Good Choices.
“Every year it gets more difficult,” says Karen Benson, RCL director of Global Compliance and Ethics. “Best practices evolve and so companies are on their toes to make sure their programs evolves.
“The level of maturity around companies that have a global compliance program continues to grow. If you don’t continue to grow, you kind of get left behind.”
When Ethisphere considers each company’s long and highly detailed application, assessment is based on its own Ethics Quotient® framework, a quantitative way to rate performance in an objective, consistent and standardized method.
The information collected provides a comprehensive sampling of core competencies rather than all aspects of corporate governance, risk, sustainability, compliance and ethics.
Scores and their weight are compiled in five categories:
- Ethics and compliance program, 35 percent
- Corporate citizenship and responsibility, 20 percent
- Culture of ethics, 20 percent
- Governance, 15 percent
- Leadership, innovation and reputation, 10 percent
At RCL, Benson says, there’s another component, evident throughout the company yet not measurable.
“There’s a lot of passion in this company for compliance, doing the right thing and integrity,” she explains. “Even when I meet at the board level, it’s an intangible. You can’t touch it, you can’t see it, you can’t hear it.
“I feel very humbled and honored that our company has an amazing culture of compliance. That wouldn’t be the case without a strong tone at the top, starting with our chairman. And I honestly mean that without blowing smoke. It gets cascaded throughout the organization.”
Each year that’s celebrated even before the annual Ethisphere announcement.
“Believe it or not, there’s such a thing called National Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week,” Benson says. “It’s a way to celebrate ethics within the organization.”
RCL’s weeklong observance last November used those three words, Make Good Choices, as its theme.
There’s something else, which Ethisphere calls the “Ethics Premium” based on long-term tracking of publicly traded honorees’ stock prices compared to the U.S. Large Cap Index.
Over five years the World’s Most Ethical Companies outperformed the large cap sector by 10.72 percent, over three years by 4.88 percent.
And that’s tangible.