There Are Ethical Corporations

Yes, Virginia, There Are Ethical Corporations

Dec 13 2004
Marjorie Kelly

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Think of a company where the virus that infects people isn’t greed but sustainability. That’s Clif Bar Inc., the $100 million maker of (nearly) organic energy bars. Or imagine a $16 billion retailer taking the risk to expose where its own overseas vendors pay substandard wages and have safety violations. That’s Gap Inc. and its one-of-a-kind Social Responsibility Report. Conjure up a 200-year-old flour maker that’s 100 percent employee owned (King Arthur Flour), and a $45 billion computer maker going door-to-door to take back its products for recycling (Dell, Inc.). Finally, wrap your brain around a high-tech manufacturer where no one makes more than $75,000 and no one less than $37,500 – that’s the unique Chroma Technology Corp., where employees hold all seats on the board of directors.

This sterling bunch of companies, large and small, are this year’s winners of the 16th Annual Business Ethics Awards, announced today by Minneapolis-based Business Ethics magazine:

* Clif Bar Inc. of Berkeley, Calif., winner of the General Excellence Award for its thorough-going commitment to environmental sustainability, employee well-being, and community involvement.

* Gap Inc. of San Francisco, winner of the Social Reporting Award, for taking social reporting a quantum step forward by risking unprecedented honesty in reporting on factory conditions.

* King Arthur Flour of Norwich, Vt., winner of the Social Legacy Award, for handing down to employee owners a centuries-old tradition of purity, for both the consumer and the environment.

* Dell, Inc. of Round Rock, Tex., winner of the Environmental Progress Award, for responding to stakeholder concerns with industry-leading computer-recycling initiatives.

* Chroma Technology Corp. of Rockingham, Vt., winner of the Living Economy Award, for exemplifying the emerging “living economy” with practices of employee ownership, fair wages, and environmental stewardship.

The Business Ethics Awards were made possible by underwriter Hewlett-Packard, benefactors BNA, Granite Construction, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Wendy’s, as well as other supporters. Business Ethics is a 17-year-old publication focused on corporate social responsibility. For the complete awards story see

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