Patagonia — which made the World’s Most Ethical Companies list six years running before being dropped from the 2013 edition — told Environmental Leader it’s disappointed it wasn’t included and has received no response from Ethisphere about why it didn’t make the cut.
When asked why Patagonia and other companies were not included in this year’s list, an Ethisphere spokesperson said the think-tank doesn’t provide specifics — except for to the company itself — about why companies did not make the list.
Rabobank was another six-time World’s Most Ethical company before being dropped from the most recent list; Kimpton Hotels, Timberland, Costco, Best Buy and Stonyfield make the 2012 list but not the 2013 edition.
The annual list highlights companies that outperform industry peers in ethical behavior. Winning companies constantly improve their programs, says Ethisphere’s Aubrie Artiano.
“One of the reasons a company may not return is because they haven’t made an effort to improve internal programs within the last year,” Artiano says. “Industry competition also factors in — industry risk and whether or not a company is meeting the newest criteria or not. This also translates to a materially higher score versus industry peers, among those who applied.”
Artiano says any company that wants to review its WME scorecard can contact Ethisphere: “These scorecards can offer companies insight as to why they were not included in the 2013 list.” She says the scorecards will be released later this week.
Patagonia’s Jen Rapp says the company contacted Ethisphere twice and Ethisphere didn’t respond. “We were disappointed to not be included in Ethisphere’s list this year, and hope we’ll be included once again in 2014,” Rapp says.
Last year, the outdoor clothing and equipment company became the first company in California to elect to be a “benefit corporation.” The legal status affords a company’s directors legal cover to consider environmental and social benefits over financial returns. Patagonia also launched an effort to restore 15 million acres of grassland in its namesake region, and bring a new line of sustainable merino wool products to consumers.
Rapp says the company initiated or expanded more than a dozen ethical programs over the past year, from its Our Common Waters campaign to increasing its solar generation capabilities and supply chain traceability. In 2012, Patagonia’s Our Common Waters bluedesign partners — suppliers that use best practices in their energy and water use, water emissions and air emissions — increased from 33 to 50, Rapp says.