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Microsoft More "Ethical" Than Apple, Google, Yahoo, Facebook

Many people might not believe that Microsoft, the company that a decade ago was often known as “the evil empire,” is now one of the most “ethical” internet companies, beating out Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook and other well-known online brands. That’s according to the New York-based Ethisphere Institute (EI), which produces an annual list of “world’s most ethical companies.”

The non-profit uses a multi-pronged methodology to determine an “Ethical Quotient” for nominated companies. Those that make the list are all considered “ethical.” There’s no further ranking or hierarchy. There were 110 total companies to make the list this year. EI has produced the list since 2007.

More than 3,000 companies were nominated for this year’s list and the winners selected from more than 100 countries in 36 industries. The following are the criteria that EI uses to determine it’s “EQ” score:

  • Ethics and Compliance Program (30%)
  • Reputation, Leadership and Innovation (30%)
  • Governance (15%)
  • Corporate Citizenship and Responsibility (25%)

Here are some of the winners from various industry categories:


  • Adidas
  • Comme Il Faut
  • Gap
  • Patagonia
  • Timberland


  • Cummins
  • Denso
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Johnson Controls


  • Adobe
  • eBay
  • Microsoft
  • Salesforce.com
  • Zappos

Specialty Retail:

  • Best Buy Co.
  • Hennes & Mauritz
  • Sonae
  • Target
  • Ten Thousand Villages

EI’s list is one measure of “ethics” and some of the companies on the list have been dinged in other surveys or lists. For example, Ford was one of the companies near the top of the newly released “Customer Complaint Index“:

Politics doesn’t appear to play into EI’s criteria, although ideology would potentially manifest in corporate policy. But for some people ethics and corporate political behavior are connected. For example, Best Buy and Target, two on the EI specialty retail list above, have given money to right-wing causes and politicians that many in the political center and on the left would consider to be “unethical.”

EI contends that ethical companies do better financially than unethical companies and asserts that those companies, in the aggregate, on its list outperform the S&P 500 overall:

The full list can be found at Forbes on here on the EI site.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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