Thrivent buys ethics awards?, Touts Christian values, The ethics of firms paying to be honored for ethics, Ethisphere Institute “World’s Most Ethical Companies”, Thrivent touts these “ethics” awards”
“Committed to honesty, integrity and fairness
Insurance companies are subject to a lot of rules. National and state governments and other regulatory organizations have established a vast array. At AAL, we recognize the importance of these rules and work diligently to follow them. Then we take an extra step.
We choose to hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than the regulations demand. We’re part of the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association–more commonly known as IMSA.”…AAL (Thrivent) Correspondent January/February 2002
“the awarding of an ethics accolade to a company that gives you money just doesn’t pass the smell test.”…LA Times October 27, 2014
“The secret of life is honesty, and fair
dealing. If you can fake that you’ve got it made.”…Groucho Marx
Thrivent, a Lutheran connected fraternal organization has been in the news for the past several years trying to maintain it’s dispute resolution, MDRP, contract dictate in lieu of litigation, despite challenges from the DOL.
It claims it’s approach of appeal, mediation and arbitration is in the best interest of its members.
It also touts its Christian based approaches and ethics awards.
Is it buying the ethics awards?
From a recent lawsuit against Thrivent:
“Executive sues Thrivent, saying he was fired because he is black”
“A black executive claims he was fired as president of a Thrivent Financial subsidiary because he accused a co-worker of racial discrimination, according to a lawsuit he filed against the financial services firm.
Gregory M. Smith, who said he was recruited by Thrivent in 2016 to help grow its network of independent insurance brokers, said he was stunned to encounter discrimination at a Fortune 500 company whose mission is “helping Christians be wise with money and live generously.”
“I was shocked,” said Smith, 56, who has worked at some of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. “I have never been treated so badly in my life.”
“Thrivent Financial, which manages more than $100 billion in assets, boasts of its corporate culture, noting on its website that it has been named one of the world’s “most ethical companies” six years in a row by the Ethisphere Institute.”
“Thrivent, a not-for-profit membership organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously, announced today it has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as one of the 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies.”
“For the last seven years, Thrivent has been honored to be named a World’s Most Ethical Company,” said Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent. “As we serve our members and carry out what it means to be an ethical company through our actions and business practices, we are pleased to be recognized as leaders in setting a standard that we hope will continue to develop within the business community.”
“Sometime in the next week or so, something called the Ethisphere Institute is scheduled to announce this year’s list of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.” If past years are any indication, the winners will have their press releases ready to go, and news outlets across the country will eat it up. There’s just one hitch: These ethics awards—let’s call them the Ethies—may have ethics issues of their own.
The Ethisphere Insitute, which describes itself as “a leading international think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability,” is actually a for-profit company. The institute also lends itself credibility with an “advisory panel” of ethicists, yet several former members say they’ve had little if anything to do with it. Finally, the institute and an affiliated company sell services to and collect fees from some of the same companies Ethisphere extols.”
“The scoring is based mostly on information provided by the companies themselves, and Ethisphere says its questionnaire should take 30 to 40 minutes to complete. Ethisphere then asks companies for documentation to support survey answers and reviews other sources, such as news articles, court records, and Consumer Reports. Ethisphere says it reviewed more than 10,000 corporations for last year’s list.
Brigham acknowledges that the system is imperfect. “Could they be lying to us?” he says. “Sure, they could. … Over time, we’re going to have to figure out how to verify that. And no one is going to pay us to verify it, and if we try to charge them to verify it, we’re going to have reporters like you make it sound like we’re getting paid off.”
Ethisphere says its methodology was developed with the help of a panel of independent experts. But as I dialed up half a dozen of the 20 committee members, I found only one (George Ash) who said he actually contributed to shaping the methodology. Others said they made a suggestion that wasn’t heeded (Thomas Donaldson), or didn’t seriously analyze the methodology (Patrick Barwise, John Dienhart, Chris MacDonald), or didn’t know they were on the panel (Karen Paul). Ethisphere says that it assumed panel members who didn’t respond to its queries simply agreed with the methodology and that each member explicitly agreed to be on the panel. Since my inquiries, Ethisphere has named a new, smaller panel, and none of the people I spoke to are still on it.”
“It’s tempting, of course, to dismiss all this as just corporate window-dressing, and in fact Canadian ethicist Chris MacDonald, who until recently was on Ethisphere’s advisory panel, warned me to take such awards “with a grain of salt.” And then there are people like Gretchen Winter, former ethics officer for “World’s Most Ethical” winner Baxter International and current director of the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society at the University of Illinois. Winter says the institute’s conflicts of interest and reliance on self-reported information make its awards “less credible.” At the same time, she says, the awards help in “advancing the conversation about ethics and compliance programs in the executive suites and boardrooms.”
They may just as easily be used, however, to squelch conversation. Last year, while working on another story, I was interviewing a corporate spokesman about allegations of fraud against his company and government fines for a radioactive waste spill. He sent me a press release trumpeting the news that Ethisphere had named his engineering and construction firm, CH2M Hill, one of the “World’s Most Ethical.” It “speaks for itself,” he said. If only he knew.”
From the LA Times.
“The ethics of firms paying to be honored for ethics
“It’s apparently a point of honor among some corporations to be named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. There already are rankings, after all, for the World’s Most Admired Companies and the Best Companies to Work For.
Blue Shield issued a press release in March saying that it had been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the third year in a row. The company said the honor had been earned because of Blue Shield’s “strong culture of ethical behavior and integrity.”
Dozens of other companies issued similar press releases around the same time. Waste Management, the garbage-disposal company that in 2011 paid $7.5 million to settle charges that it broke Massachusetts environmental laws, touted its inclusion among the World’s Most Ethical Companies.
So did Eastman Chemical, which faces lawsuits alleging that it did not adequately warn of the dangers of a chemical that spilled into a West Virginia river earlier this year, leaving more than 300,000 people without water for days.”
“Apparently, Blue Shield and Ethisphere haven’t quite grasped that the appearance of a conflict can be just as troubling as an actual conflict.
Nor do they seem to understand that the awarding of an ethics accolade to a company that gives you money just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Hey, remember when things like ethics mattered?
Blue Shield doesn’t. Neither does the Ethisphere Institute.”