Ranking Corporate Ethics CAMPAIGNS

The Business Ethics Network, which describes itself as the “premier international network of corporate accountability campaigners” has just announced the winners of its annual BENNY awards:


“The BENNY Awards recognize outstanding work to hold corporations accountable and rein in corporate abuse.  From industry to industry, corporations have too much power, which means workers, communities, and the environment have too little.” The BENNY Awards recognize outstanding campaigns advocating for corporations to change their behavior and be accountable to their workers, to the communities in which they operate, and to the environment.

The big winners this year were campaigns against Coke, Shell, and Chevron:

“1st Prize, $15,000: Think Outside the Bottle: Challenge Corporate Control of Water, Corporate Accountability International
”2nd Prize, $10,000: Sakhalin II Campaign, Sakhalin Environment Watch and Pacific Environment 
”3rd Prize, $5,000: Clean Up Ecuador Campaign, Amazon Watch”

My first thought upon reading this: this is kind of a neat activist response to the slew of congratulatory business ethics rankings (e.g., 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2006), which focus on what a swell job some companies are doing, but which I suspect from an activist’s point of view risk overshadowing just how much bad behaviour continues.

(I’ve blogged about corporate ethics rankings before. See here and here, for example, and most recently here.)

My second thought: this has the makings of quite a PR battle. As I’ve noted before, sometimes even the most unlikely businesses can actually win ethics awards. This prompted me to wonder: if campaigns against Coke, Shell, and Chevron are winning awards, I wonder if those companies have themselves actually won any ethics awards?

A quick Google search turned up…
This press release, which lists Chevron Canada as “2006 recipient of the Ethics in Business Award of Distinction”
This page, which mentions that Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors and former CEO, Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies is a past-recipient of “the prestigious Stanley C. Pace Ethics and Leadership Award honoring leaders who have modeled exceptional commitment to ethics in their organizations”.

I cite these awards not to rebut the accusations implied by the BENNY awards, but to raise again the complexity of rating and ranking. Food for thought: how is it that a single company can be the target of an award-winning ethics campaign, and yet itself be the recipient of ethics awards?

Related Links:
The Business Ethics Network’s website.
Think Outside the Bottle
Sakhalin II Campaign
Clean Up Ecuador Campaign

1 comment so far

  1. […] Ranking Corporate Ethics Campaigns (October 2006) […]

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