Thrivent Ethisphere “ethics recognition” 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies, One of best awards money can buy?, Chris MacDonald: take awards “with a grain of salt.”
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”… “Hamlet”, William Shakespeare
“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
If your company is ethical, you should not have to advertise it. Customers, employees and those you deal with will know.
From Thrivent February 26, 2019.
“THRIVENT NAMED ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST ETHICAL COMPANIES® BY ETHISPHERE FOR THE 8TH TIME”
“Thrivent, a not-for-profit membership organization that helps members be wise with money and live generously, has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as one of the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies.
Thrivent has been recognized eight years in a row and is one of only five honorees in the financial services industry.
In 2019, 128 honorees were recognized spanning 21 countries and 50 industries. The 13th class of honorees profoundly illustrates how companies continue to be the driving force for improving communities, building capable and empowered workforces, and fostering corporate cultures focused on ethics and a strong sense of purpose.
“We’re proud to once again be named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies,” said Terry Rasmussen, president and CEO of Thrivent. “At Thrivent, we are purposeful and intentional about following ethical business practices and ensuring our actions reflect commitment, collaboration and care. Setting this high standard helps us fulfill our mission of serving more Christians on their wise with money journeys.”
Said Ethisphere’s Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Erblich: “Today, employees, investors and stakeholders are putting their greatest trust in companies to take leadership on societal issues. Companies that take the long view with a purpose-based strategy are proven to not only outperform but last. I congratulate everyone at Thrivent for earning this recognition.”
Methodology & Scoring
The World’s Most Ethical Companies assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute’s Ethics Quotient® (EQ) framework, which offers a quantitative way to assess a company’s performance in an objective, consistent and standardized manner. The information collected provides a comprehensive sampling of definitive criteria of core competencies rather than all aspects of corporate governance, risk, sustainability, compliance and ethics.
Scores are generated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program (35 percent), culture of ethics (20 percent), corporate citizenship and responsibility (20 percent), governance (15 percent) and leadership and reputation (10 percent). All companies that participate in the assessment process receive their scores, providing them with valuable insights into how they stack up against leading organizations.”
Why does Thrivent go to such lengths to tout this award?
Is Thrivent buying this award?
Does the award really mean anything?
Consider the following:
“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.”
“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.””
“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.”