Mutuals and member-owned companies make list of most ethical companies

Several mutuals and customer-owned businesses have been placed on a list of the world’s most ethical companies.

The list is compiled annually by the Ethisphere Institute, which measures the ethical practices of companies against its own set of standards, focusing on transparency, integrity, ethics and compliance.

Scores are generated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program (35%), corporate citizenship and responsibility (20%), culture of ethics (20%), governance (15%) and leadership, innovation and reputation (10%).

The list includes US mutuals Cuna Mutual Group Financial Services, TIAA Financial Services, USAA Insurance, and Massachusetts Mutual Life.

Australia’s Teachers Mutual Bank also made the list, as did US engineering company CH2M, which is employee-owned.

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A number of customer owned organisations made the list, including US mutual legal reserve company Health Care Service Corporation and US healthcare company Vizient.

Two Christian fraternal benefit societies, Thrivent Financial – which operates a credit union in the US – and US-based Knights of Columbus were also included on the list.

The Thrivent Financial building in Minneapolis (Photo: Steve Silverman)

A total of 124 companies were listed, from 52 industry sectors headquartered in 19 countries.

Steve James, chief executive of Teachers Mutual Bank – listed for the fourth consecutive year – said: “To be one of only three banks recognised as a World’s Most Ethical Company, tells us we are achieving our aim of setting the standard for ethical practices in banking. We believe business should be driven by ethics and purpose.”

Teachers – which comprises two educators’ mutuals, Teachers Mutual Bank and Unibank, alongside the Firefighters Mutual Bank – was recognised for its social and environmental impact including being a gender equality employer of choice, being carbon neutral for the past five years, maintaining member satisfaction levels at 90% or higher, strong community investment and issuing a AUD $100m ethical bond.

Cuna Mutual Group has featured in the list four times in the past five years. President and chief executive Robert N Trunzo said: “As part of the credit union movement, we believe in people helping people and doing business with integrity.

“Adopting agile principles has allowed us to put consumer needs at the forefront of our decisions and empower our teams to make decisions that drive value for our customers.”

Massachusetts Mutual is on the list for the third consecutive year. “Ethics and integrity are not only fundamental to our company’s culture, they’re core to how we run our business and top-of-mind in everything we do,” said Roger Crandall, chairman, president and chief executive. The mutual group has provided financial education for more than 30,000 young people as part of its FutureSmart programme. It teamed up with NBA teams to launch interactive seminars at basketball arenas to promote the importance of savings and career choices.

Making its ninth consecutive appearance on the list is employee-owned sustainable engineering company CH2M. Chair and chief executive Jacqueline Hinman said: “Around the world, CH2Mers seek to deliver smart, socially and sustainably inclusive solutions that improve lives and the condition of our planet, allowing us to serve our clients and our communities with distinction.”

Timothy Erblich, chief executive of Ethisphere, said: “We’ve seen constant shifts in the geo-political climate, laws and regulations, and societal expectations. The World’s Most Ethical Companies respond swiftly to these challenges. They invest in their local communities around the world, embrace strategies of diversity and inclusion, and focus on long-term sustainable business practices.”