Business Ethics

100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2006

Celebrating companies that excel at serving a variety of stakeholders well.

The Seventh Annual list of the best-managed U.S. firms. See the full pdf of the list here.

Highlights of the List

"We take them coffee picking, and they do some hand sorting of beans in the hot sun," says Winston Rost, Green Mountain Coffee Roaster's director of coffee appreciation, describing the annual trip he leads of a dozen employees, visiting coffee-growing cooperatives in Vera Cruz and Oaxaca, Mexico. With a newfound appreciation for how hard the work is, some roasters say they'll never spill another bean again, Rost adds. This kind of attention to the human element of business offers a hint at why Green Mountain Coffee of Waterbury, Vt., is No. 1 this year on the list of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens.

Since its founding in 1981, the company has been socially and environmentally active, "but it wasn't all that extensive or organized at first," recalls CEO Bob Stiller.

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Summer School for Bosses

Donald ‘Skip’ Cass was less than thrilled when his boss suggested he attend a six-week, executive-education course at Stanford University. As executive vice president/media operations at the $1.5 billion in sales Belo Corp. (owner of the Dallas Morning News, the Providence Journal, and various television and cable new channels and websites), Cass felt he had no time for such frivolities.

“I initially told my employer I was too busy to get involved in this,” he says. Jim Grimshaw, vice president, guest experience and brand standards of $26 billion in sales Carlson Companies (Radisson Hotels, Seven Seas Cruise lines, T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants), was also a little uncertain when he was invited to attend a three-week, executive-education program at the University of Minnesota “I was hoping it was going to be relevant to the business problems and issues of the Carlson Companies,” he says.

At the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit that monitors corporate behavior as part of its Business and Society program, Rick Leimsider wonders about that.

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Ethics After Enron

BECoverThe guilty verdicts were not the end of the story. Only six weeks after his conviction for conspiracy and fraud, Enron founder and former chief executive Kenneth Lay was dead, the victim of a heart attack. Jeffrey Skilling, Lay's successor at the now defunct energy giant, continues to maintain his innocence and has vowed to appeal; nonetheless, he's likely to receive a hefty prison term when sentenced. As the drama plays to its final conclusion, corporate America watches with bemusement and searches for lessons. Is the Enron case a "Verdict on an Era" gone by -- as The New York Times suggests? Or do the "Guilty Verdicts Provide 'Red Meat' to Prosecutors Chasing Companies?" -- as The Wall Street Journal speculates?

There's probable truth in both scenarios. In interviews we've conducted with executives of companies large and small, it's clear that the Enron case will influence discussions and decisions in corporate boardrooms for years to come.

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