Close this search box.

The World’s Most Ethical Companies – Overview

In 2006, Ethisphere launched the World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition program to measure and showcase the superior achievements of organizations that are committed to doing business with ethics and integrity. The process is rigorous and objective. It includes a 243-point assessment, documentation review, and research into an organization’s reputation and ethical practices. The process itself provides a way for organizations to assess their own programs against leading practices. World’s Most Ethical Companies honorees also enjoy recognition of their exceptional ethics and compliance programs. Ethisphere also broadly shares the World’s Most Ethical Companies data to help all organizations understand and improve programs.


This is the 18th year Ethisphere has honored organizations with the designation of World’s Most Ethical Companies.


We evaluate an organization’s (i) Ethics and Compliance Program, (ii) Culture of Ethics, (iii) Corporate Citizenship and Responsibility, (iv) Governance, and (v) Third Party Management. Each category is evaluated through a combination of answers to our Ethics Quotient® (EQ) questionnaire, submitted supplemental documentation, and where necessary, independent research and follow up with a candidate.  Evaluation also includes a review of publicly available information with a bearing on an organization’s reputation for acting ethically (e.g., public filings, regulatory activity, media review). If the review team has a concern after this independent analysis, we will reach out to the applicant to discuss.

An organization’s final Ethics Quotient (EQ) score is evaluated relative to those of its peers within the context of its structure, size, and operating environment. Those organizations demonstrating the strongest application across our methodology receive the designation of being one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. As applicant organizations come from a variety of industries with significant differences in regulatory and operating environments, the overall EQ score is used to understand an organization’s performance in context of similar organizations, not to set a floor. However, reputation and legal issues are carefully evaluated. Receiving a materially deficient score in the category of Leadership and Reputation will prevent an organization from being selected as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

Past participants consider completing the World’s Most Ethical Companies process to be extremely valuable, regardless of the recognition that may or may not come from it. The application process enables organizations to understand the elements of an effective program and to also compare their approach to leading practices. It also provides opportunities for ethics and compliance teams to collaborate with other key stakeholders across business functions and work together to answer certain questions.

Upon completing the process, applicants receive a scorecard which outlines their evaluation scores as they compare to honorees. Companies have found this information to be valuable for establishing priorities, celebrating their strengths, building a business case for additional budget, and focusing their teams. The scorecard also includes exclusive data and insights only available to applicants, and links to valuable, curated resources to help improve their programs.

Applicants who are Business Ethics Leadership Alliance (BELA) members also receive a scorecard with exclusive insights and data comparing their scores to those of honorees, along with a more in-depth benchmarking that provides further insights and guidance.

Applicants with exceptional program elements may also be selected to be featured in Ethisphere Magazine and other Ethisphere platforms, such as our Global Ethics Summit.

Whether an organization applies or not, a robust ethics and compliance program is good business. Our years of data shows that those with strong programs in place outperform, which we call the Ethics Premium. Investors understand this, and importantly, employees, customers and other stakeholders value working with organizations rooted in integrity.

No, the World’s Most Ethical Companies selection process is unbiased. As an ethics and compliance organization, we are very conscious of conflicts of interest and use our methodology to quantify recognition as much as possible. Organizations are honored for their programs, practices, policies, and reputations as measured by the Ethics Quotient methodology.

Ethisphere’s mission is to define and advance the standards of ethical business practices. We do this through data-driven assessments, benchmarking, and guidance; as well as recognizing excellence through Ethisphere Magazine and the annual World’s Most Ethical Companies designation.

Ethisphere receives revenue from our membership group, a broad range of solutions and advisory services, licenses, conferences, and sponsorships. No company that is honored with the World’s Most Ethical Companies designation is responsible for more than 0.86% of Ethisphere’s revenue. And no honoree may place advertising in the issue of Ethisphere Magazine that announces and highlights new honorees.

Since launching the World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition, we have had thousands of requests for access to data highlighting the practices of top companies. We now offer that opportunity through The Sphere. Organizations find it helpful for benchmarking programs to identify strengths and areas of opportunity. Others also use it to pull contextual data for presenting to senior leadership and the board. It is not a requirement for applying for World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition, but can prove helpful for organizations looking to get a sense as to whether they are ready to apply.

About Ethisphere