The Ethisphere Institute, a leading international think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption, and sustainability, has announced the sixth annual selection of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies, highlighting a record 145 organizations that show leadership in promoting ethical business standards.

This year’s list covers more than three dozen industries, from aerospace to wind power, with 43 of the WME winners headquartered outside the U.S.

Each 2012 honoree—including U.S. industry standard-bearers like Cisco, Ford, and Timberland and smaller international firms like the Ethical Fruit Company (U.K), Tokio Marine Holding (Japan), and the Panama Canal Authority—was chosen for promoting ethical business standards and practices by exceeding legal minimums for compliance, introducing innovative ideas that benefit the public and forcing their competitors to follow suit. They demonstrate how corporate citizenship is undoubtedly tied to the success of a company’s brand and bottom line.

Visit to view the complete list of the 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies, past lists, and to read the methodology behind it.

“Each year the competition for World’s Most Ethical Companies intensifies as the number of nominations submitted for consideration grows,” said Alex Brigham, Executive Director of Ethisphere. “This year’s winners know that a strong ethics program is a key component to a successful business model, and they continue to scrutinize their ethical standards to keep up with an ever-changing regulatory environment. Corporate ethics has become much more important globally, as well, and that is reflected in the truly global nature of this year’s honorees.”

There have been 23 companies that have been honored each of the six years the WME has been awarded, including Aflac, American Express, Fluor, General Electric, Milliken & Company, Patagonia, Rabobank, and Starbucks, among others.

“We recognize that when it comes to purchasing insurance, a big part of the decision is based upon the consumer's perception of a company as being trustworthy, transparent and ethical," Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. “Our products represent a promise to customers that we will be there in their times of need, so we are proud to be a World's Most Ethical Company for a sixth straight year because it sends a strong message from Ethisphere—the foremost authority on business ethics—that Aflac can be trusted.”

“Juniper's engagement with Ethisphere has enabled Juniper to get a respected third party perspective on our ethics and compliance program,” said Mitchell Gaynor, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Juniper Networks. “Ethisphere has provided us with a unique view of best practices in this area, and we have a stronger program because of the engagement.”

There were 53 new and returning honorees from lists prior to 2011 for this year’s WME, including Blue Shield of California, Hasbro, Honeywell, L’Oreal, Petco, the Progress Group of Insurance Companies, and University Hospitals (Cleveland), among others.

“As a business, employer, and responsible corporate citizen, L’Oréal strives to be exemplary and to operate with integrity and respect for each of our stakeholders,” said Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L’Oréal. “We believe that ethical behavior lays the foundation for future performance. We are honored and privileged to be part of Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies list and are convinced that we can continue to positively impact the world by bringing beauty to everyone in an ethical manner.”

“SCA's track record in ethical business practices and strong environmental performance is a business differentiator strengthening our competitive advantage,” said Jan Johansson, President and CEO of Sweden-headquartered hygiene and paper company SCA. “Our customers, consumers, and investors trust us because of the high level of transparency we demand at all levels of our business. We have seen a true difference in our company's performance as we have put sustainability on top of the agenda. We are honored by the recognition an Ethisphere inclusion implies.”

Ethisphere celebrated the winning companies during an Honoree Dinner at New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright serving as the program’s keynote speaker. The World’s Most Ethical Companies is also featured in the Q1 2012 issue of the quarterly magazine Ethisphere.

About Ethisphere

The research-based Ethisphere® Institute is a leading international think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability. Ethisphere provides the only third-party verifications of compliance programs and ethical cultures that include: Ethics Inside® Certification, Compliance Leader Verification™, and Anti-Corruption Program Verification™. Click here for information on the Ethisphere Institute, including ranking projects, and membership.