CEOs are deepening their engagement in the areas of ethics, values, trust and transparency, according to new research on the marketing and communications practices of leading companies from EthicOne and the Ethisphere Institute.
The new, jointly released Ethics in Marketing & Communicationsstudy examined all 135 companies on the 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies list as well as a select survey group of eight large companies that provided a deep examination of their marketing and communications practices.
“To succeed in the age of trust, companies need to build trusted brands by starting on the inside,” said David Herrick, managing principal of EthicOne, in a news release. “Ethics and values must become a genuine part of your culture before anyone on the outside will believe in them. By taking a deep look at the internal practices of acknowledged ethics leaders, we are building a roadmap for all companies who want to create powerful ethical brands.”
Leaders committed to ethics
A major trend identified in the study is that top leaders are becoming deeply engaged with the work of communicating about ethics and values. Every respondent company in our select survey group reported that their CEO, C-suite and Board of Directors was either “more engaged” or “significantly more engaged” than they had been three years ago on issues of ethics, values, trust and transparency. All of these companies reported that their CEO “acts as chief spokesperson/voice for communicating the company’s values, culture, and ethics expectations.”
The CEOs of companies in the select survey are heavily-engaged with their top marketing and communications leaders on matters of ethics, values, transparency and trust. More than half of the companies reported daily or weekly interactions between the CEO and their Corporate Communications/Public Relations leader and their Marketing/Brand leader on these issues.
Strong board engagement in ethics and trust
Boards of directors of leading companies are directly engaged with issues of ethics and compliance. Every company in the select survey indicated that their board receives reports on ethics and compliance at least quarterly, with several receiving monthly updates via dashboards or other mechanisms.
Additionally, 71 percent of Corporate Communications/Public Relations leaders and 86 percent of Marketing/Brand leaders in the select survey have regular interaction with their company’s board of directors, signifying the elevated importance of corporate and brand reputation at the board level.
Of the full 135 companies, 96 percent maintain a documented compliance and ethics communications plan to ensure that ethics and values are a priority in their organizations.
“The World’s Most Ethical Companies have outperformed their large cap peers by more than 10 percent over the past three years,” said Timothy Erblich, CEO of the Ethisphere Institute, in the release. “They achieve these results with executive teams and boards committed to building strong cultures of ethics internally, organizational structures and governance that advance their values, and marketing and communications leaders who know how to extend their authentic cultures externally.”
The Ethics in Marketing & Communications research was made possible by the commitment of Founding Participants who are all members of the World’s Most Ethical Companies community: U.S. Bank, Voya Financial, ON Semiconductor and 3M. Additional participants included: Cambia Health Solutions, Lilly, Prudential and TE Connectivity.