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The US mobility company Ford has been focusing on ethics this year with a series of moves capped by the Ethisphere "Most Ethical" companies list.

Policy & Politics

Ford Cements Ethics Rep With New Award

The US mobility company Ford has been focusing on ethics this year with a series of moves capped by the Ethisphere “Most Ethical” companies list.

The Ford Motor Company has made the Ethisphere Institute’s “World’s Most Ethical Company” list for the seventh year in a row, making it the only auto manufacturer/mobility company out of 131 corporations to make the cut this year, and one of only four companies in the list’s automotive category. As for why CleanTechnica finds this interesting, the Most Ethical designation marks the third time since January that Ford has made an announcement related to ethics and sustainability, so we’re seeing a pattern emerging.

Ford ethics award ALEC

Ford And Business Ethics

If you’re thinking that corporate awards of one sort or another are pretty easy to come by these days, you’re probably right. However, the Ethisphere Institute stands out for its focus on compliance and risk management. The organization’s proprietary ranking system is designed to measure the foundational strengths of a company:

Most Ethical Companies is Ethisphere’s proprietary rating system, the corporate Ethics Quotient (EQTM). The framework of the EQ is comprised of a series of multiple-choice questions that capture a company’s performance in an objective, consistent and standardized way. The information collected is not intended to cover all aspects of corporate governance, risk, sustainability, social responsibility, compliance or ethics, but rather is a comprehensive sampling of definitive criteria of core competencies.

As for greenwashing, from a process point of view, setting goals and meeting them is a critical first step that creates a ripple effect of consumer expectations. The Most Ethical program is designed to drive future actions, aside from just making space in the lobby for another awards plaque. Ethisphere also enables member companies of its Business Ethics Leadership Alliance to measure their status against the Most Ethical benchmark and receive a data-based analysis of their ethics-related activity.

Another item of interest is the award’s advisory panel, which includes the head of the Anti-Corruption Initiatives of the UN Global Compact as well as the CEO of the Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade, an industry group that focuses on corruption, trade theft, piracy, and other spy stuff.

Ford And Sustainability

Speaking of plaques on the wall, Ford’s new ethics award joins a laundry list of other recent accolades for the company including Forbes 2015 America’s Best Employers, the Human Rights Campaign 2015 Corporate Equality Index, and Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies among others.

Along with our sister site, CleanTechnica has also taken note of Ford’s sustainability moves. In addition to a vigorous sustainable manufacturing program, back in 2013 we noted that Ford was one of the first auto companies to realize the home integrated microgrid and renewable energy potential of EV ownership. Last fall the company announced a new investment of $4.5 billion in EV tech, and it also appears to be leading the pack when it comes to adopting an integrated mobility business model that incorporates ride sharing and includes bicycles.

The new ethics award complements one of the other two significant moves that Ford has made so far this year. Last month Ford announced that it has achieved full membership in the Electronics Industry Citizen Coalition, a logical move considering the way that automotive and electronic technology have merged in recent years.

The third move occurred in January, when Ford aligned itself with sustainability leader The LEGO Group in a new partnership spearheaded by new Ford-branded LEGO kits. The new relationship was splashily announced at the North American Auto Show in Detroit.

Coincidentally, January will forever be known as the month that a group of armed thugs took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, where they proceeded to terrorize the local population while spouting the land privatization theories put forth by ALEC, the notorious business lobbying organization funded by the Koch brothers.

At the time we figured that the ugly episode would touch off a new round of corporate defections from ALEC, and we were right. In an unpublicized move in February, Ford let it be known that it had terminated its membership in the group, which is broadly known for its focus on private enrichment at the expense of public ethics.

Ford And Ethics — Who Knew?

That brings us back around to Ford and ethics. The somewhat spotty human rights legacy of the first Ford family generation has certainly evolved since 1936, when Edsel Ford provided initial funding for the Ford Foundation.  The Ford Foundation went on to become one of the world’s largest independent philanthropic organizations, and it has played a role in exposing the Flint water crisis through its funding for a “watchdog effort” to track Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s use of emergency managers in Detroit and other communities in the state.

The watchdog initiative resulted in this:

…a grant from Ford funded the work of journalist Curt Guyette, hired by the ACLU of Michigan to investigate how the decisions of emergency managers were impacting financially strapped Michigan communities. That assignment brought Guyette to Flint, where through dogged reporting he was able to draw awareness not only to the water crisis, but also to the lack of transparent and accountable government in Michigan.


Image (screenshot): Ford Shelby GT350 via Ford Motor Company.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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