Restaurant Industry Ethical Companies

This year, the National Restaurant Association reports, the Ethisphere Institute listed five Association member companies, Aramark, Kellogg, Marriott International, PepsiCo and Starbucks, on its list of the world’s most ethical companies.

These and other companies on Ethisphere’s annual list of ethical companies must have strong corporate compliance and social responsibility policies; they must comply with federal sentencing guidelines and international labor, anti-trust, and trade laws; and they must take steps to ensure their contractors also meet those standards. (NRA, 2014)

Following is a summary of the Ethisphere Institute’s main evaluation categories, which can also serve as useful internal assessment categories for any organization. Additional details are available at

Corporate Citizenship and Responsibility

Ethisphere reviews the quality and effectiveness of each candidate company’s performance in such areas as environmental stewardship, community involvement, corporate philanthropy, workplace impact and well-being, and supply chain engagement and oversight.

Ethics and Compliance Program

Ethisphere assesses each candidate company’s alignment with the hallmarks of an effective compliance and ethics program as outlined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Those are to:

  • Establish standards and procedures to prevent and detect criminal conduct;
  • Ensure that the company’s governing authority exercises reasonable oversight of those standards and procedures;
  • Keep bad actors out of key positions;
  • Conduct effective training and communication;
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that the program is followed;
  • Promote and enforce the program; and
  • Take reasonable steps to respond to, and prevent, wrongdoing.

Corporate Governance

The Institute wants to see evidence of strong corporate governance, to include oversight, governance principles, and risk management.

Reputation, Leadership and Innovation

In this category, the Ethisphere Institute looks for examples of corporate leadership in local, national, industry, and/or global initiatives that promote business ethics, responsible and sustainable business practices, environmental stewardship, good governance, transparency, and social responsibility.

Culture of Ethics

For this category, the Institute reviews each company’s overall ethical culture as compared to widely accepted norms for ethical conduct. It is looking not only for the existence of relevant policies, but also for evidence of employee buy-in.

Many firms in the restaurant industry are good community neighbors; ninety-four percent of restaurants give back to their communities, according to the NRA, and their charitable contributions add up to $3 billion a year. Congratulations are in order for the firms recognized this year for their excellent and comprehensive approach to ethics, compliance, and corporate citizenship, and to the many others that strive for excellence in this arena.

Ethical Advocate provides comprehensive ethics and compliance solutions to over a million users across all sectors.


Ethisphere Institute, Scoring & Methodology webpage, (accessed July 12, 2014).

National Restaurant Association, “NRA Members among ‘Most Ethical’ Companies”,

NRA News & Research webpage, March 21, 2014.