The honorees span 21 countries and 51 industries and include 14 first-time honorees and seven companies that have been named on the list every year since its inception. In 2020, two global apparel companies have been recognised; high street retailing chain H&M and outdoor and footwear Group VF Corporation, owner of Timberland. In the automotive sector, only GM has made it on the list this year. Volvo Cars is a past honoree, in 2017 and 2018, while Ford was recognised in 2017. First recognised in 2007 then in 2011, H&M has been a honoree every year since 2013, while VF Corp has been named as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the fourth straight year.

“This recognition demonstrates the commitment shared by all our associates around the world to live with integrity and hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards. As a purpose-led company that is powered by a performance-driven workforce, we are dedicated to continual improvement and leading by example, which we hope inspires others in our industry to do the same”, said Steve Rendle, Chairman, President and CEO, VF Corp.

The Ethisphere Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust, and business success. Its Ethics Quotient is a proprietary rating system that collects and objectively scores self-reported data in five weighted categories. Questions included in the Ethics Quotient are periodically reviewed and updated based on changing regulations, expectations, and best practices. Supporting documentation is required for consideration as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

Material sourcing

VF Corp has also recently announced the closing of its €500 million green bond offering, representing the first green bond issued in the apparel and footwear industry. The amount equivalent to the net proceeds from the offering is to be used to advance programmes within the company’s Made for Change Sustainability & Responsibility strategy and drive progress toward achievement of its recently announced science-based targets (SBTs) and sustainable materials vision. VF’s green bond framework defines funding eligibility criteria in three areas; Sustainable Products & Materials, such as those that support VF’s commitment to source 100% of its top nine materials, including leather, from regenerative, recyclable or renewable sources by 2030; Sustainable Operations & Supply Chain, such as renewable energy installations, and zero waste distribution centres; and Natural Carbon Sinks, including reforestation conservation projects, and investments in regenerative agriculture practices.