In March, Ethisphere hosted its 9th annual Global Ethics Summit in New York 
City. The Summit provides an opportunity for companies from around the world to celebrate what makes them great businesses and share best practices on how to create a corporate culture that shines above the rest. Every year more than 450 executives from nearly every corner of the C-Suite including CEOs, Generals Counsel, Board Members, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers and more attend for a two-day colloquy on how to advance toward a worldwide culture of business ethics.

“I’ve been attending Ethisphere’s Global Ethics Summit for the past few years,” said Korin Neff, Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance officer, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation. “It’s always beneficial to attend the Summit because it gives us the opportunity to benchmark what we are doing, share best practices with other leaders throughout the world and ensure we are keeping abreast of trends across the industry.”

KPMG, Henry Schein and Shift: Advancing Human Rights

Company influencers from multinationals such as Coca-Cola, DELL, General Electric, Jones Lang LaSalle, L’Oréal, Microsoft, Visa, On Semiconductor, Novartis, Panasonic, Nokia, PepsiCo, Walmart, Realogy, Henry Schein, Starbucks and much more all lent their expertise to fuel actionable solutions relating to culture, the value of integrity and the inextricable link between data and ethics.

“The Global Ethics Summit is a great opportunity to connect with other legal and compliance professionals. There’s no competition between companies in compliance” said David Howard, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Litigation, Competition Law and Compliance at Microsoft. “The Summit allows us to learn from each other about how companies are thinking about these important issues and about the innovations different companies are bringing to their programs.”

The Ethics Premium: Performance of 2017 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honorees to US Large Cap Index

In addition to the value of maintaining a system of ethical values, lessons focused on the price that companies can pay for behaving in an unethical way. Attendees noted that a culture where misconduct is tolerated—or, worse, encouraged—could result in higher turnover, lower morale a tarnished reputation and, ultimately, make sustainable success seem impossible to achieve; a notion supported by recent surveys, including one conducted by Aflac, an 11 time recipient of Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies award. A commitment to ethical business practices remains an important part of how companies do business. According to our recent research, the stock prices of those that appear on the 2017 list of World’s Most Ethical Companies outpaced the S&P 500 Index by more than 6 percentage points (see chart to the right).

To further reinforce this point, the panels at the Summit all agreed that today’s trends in corporate ethics are going to grow in relevance and the demand for ethical behavior, specifically among the CSR-focused millennial generation, is expected to increase.

Ellen Marram, Board of Director,Eli Lilly and Timothy Erblich, CEO, Ethisphere discuss: The CEO Conversation: The Business Case for ESG Commitment

“The belief that you’ve arrived when it comes to Ethics and Compliance is one of the most dangerous beliefs of all—leading directly to complacency, which leads to the erosion of a culture of integrity into mistakes becoming calamities,” said Ellen Marram, Board of Director, Eli Lilly and Company during a keynote session. “Integrity was—and still is— one of our three core values at the beginning, more than 140 years ago. It’s vital that Lilly and other companies sustain their ethical journeys and continue to improve their cultures of integrity, through benchmarking, learning from each other and sharing best practices”.

Michael McLaughlin, Sr. Vice President Employment Law and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Dell during a plenary session on integrity.

It is common perception that if companies combine robust compliance standards with a healthy culture of ethics and integrity good things will surely follow. But this is becoming increasingly complex as an essential component to the growth model. Mergers & Acquisitions is layered with challenges that can place integrity at risk when stepping outside of the pure financial benefits but having a strong culture of ethics already in place can help unburden the process. “What I am most proud of is that our programs live and breathe in the hearts and minds of the senior leadership and it’s not just a paper program,” said Michael McLaughlin, Sr. Vice President Employment Law and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Dell during a plenary session on integrity. “It’s real, we have their attention and in our business that is the most important thing. Dell is joined in this kind of leading practice by the majority of World’s Most Ethical Companies.”

Missed Ethisphere’s 9th Annual Global Ethics Summit? Check out the conversation on Twitter under #GlobalEthicsSummit17

Check out our YouTube Channel for a complete list of the panels.