The man at the top says you have to work a certain “muscle” to stay on an honorable track, and it’s evident that the people of Royal Caribbean have been doing a lot of flexing.
For the fourth year running, RCL has been cited by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.
And this year, the 13th for the program, Royal Caribbean stands alone among its competitors as the only company in the Leisure & Recreation category.
When Karen Benson, RCL director of Global Compliance and Ethics, explains this she points upward, first citing the tone set by the cruiseline’s chairman and CEO, Richard D. Fain.
“Richard likes to talk about the ‘ethics memory muscle,’” she says. “He says ethics is something you have to continually practice, and without practice you could end up going down a path that you didn’t want to go down.”
And as time goes on, Fain says, it has become ever more clear that good ethics is good business.
“We recognize that corporate responsibility and accountability is increasingly driving decisions made by our guests, business partners and our employees,” he says. “This honor is a reflection of our 50-year commitment to demonstrating these shared values every day, and I know our employees take great pride in this recognition.”
Being among the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies is an honor earned by only 128 businesses in 21 countries and 50 industries. To get there, companies have to meet Ethisphere’s Ethics Quotient® with weighted scores arising from five categories – ethics and compliance program (35 percent), culture of ethics (20 percent), corporate citizenship and responsibility (20 percent), governance (15 percent), and leadership and reputation (10 percent).
Benson further credits a fully integrated “holistic” approach across disciplines throughout Royal Caribbean for the flexibility necessary to get ahead of any regulatory and legal changes that arise and new ethical nuances they may present.
“It’s not only spending time on education within the organization,” she explains, “but we also spend a lot of time externally with our third parties, and making sure that we engage with those that abide by similar values and policies.”
People are increasingly watchful, looking for ethical leadership as part of their decision-making process when working for or supporting businesses, according to Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich.
“Today, employees, investors and stakeholders are putting their greatest trust in companies to take leadership on societal issues,” he says. “Companies that take the long view with a purpose-based strategy are proven to not only outperform but last.”
Underscoring the growing importance of an integrity-based approach to business, Ethisphere cites a recent Forbes Insight and Deloitte Global study that found “93 percent of respondents believe companies are more than mere employers – they are societal stewards.”
Which is to say, doing well by doing good not only makes for stronger companies, but also positions those businesses as agents for change in a sometimes ethically challenged world.