Four Minnesota Cos. Named “World’s Most Ethical”

Ecolab, Target, Best Buy, and General Mills are among 110 companies that have leading ethics and compliance programs, according to the Ethisphere Institute.

Four Minnesota companies-Richfield-based Best Buy, Inc., St. Paul-based Ecolab, Inc., Golden Valley-based General Mills, Inc., and Minneapolis-based Target Corporation-are on the 2011 “World's Most Ethical Companies” list published by New York-based Ethisphere Institute.

According to Ethisphere, the companies that make the list have leading ethics and compliance programs, particularly compared to their industry peers.

This year, 110 companies named to the list-up from last year when 100 companies were made the list. Of these companies, 36 are new to the list and 26 companies dropped off from the 2010 list. These “drop offs” generally occurred because of litigation and ethics violations, as well as increased competition from within their industry, Ethisphere said.

All four Minnesota companies have made the list for the past two years.

“Businesses thrive in strong, diverse communities, and Target's longstanding record of community engagement and corporate social responsibility is a source of pride for our team and a hallmark of our brand,” Target's CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement. “We are honored to be recognized for our commitments to responsible corporate citizenship and to fostering an inclusive culture.”

Ethisphere claims to have conducted data analysis on hundreds of companies based on responses to a survey and research to confirm the survey responses. The institute took into account several factors, including integrity track record and reputation, corporate citizenship and responsibility, internal system and ethics/compliance programs, and executive leadership and tone from the top.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award again this year,” St. Paul-based Ecolab's CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr., said in a statement. “Our long-term success depends on grounding our leadership, our associates, and our culture in ethical business practices. Strong business ethics are critical to delivering profitable, sustainable growth, and running a successful global business.”

Ethisphere Institute is a think tank dedicated to the creation, advancement, and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption, and sustainability. The list of the most ethical companies is publiched in Ethisphere magazine, the institute's quarterly publication.