The 13 Most Ethical Retailers In The World

best buy brian dunn

Photo: AP

Some corporations go out of their way to practice what they preach.This year, 145 global companies from 36 industries took their mission beyond profit-making and exceeded legal compliance minimums, according to the Ethisphere Institute, a New York-based think-tank that promotes corporate responsibility.

Companies, which can nominate themselves or be nominated by others, were ranked based on reputation, ethical track record, corporate governance, industry leadership and social responsibility. 

We included retailers listed under food stores, general, and specialty categories.   


Headquarters: Finland

Kesko operates more than 1,000 K-food stores visited by 900,000 customers everyday.

In February, Kesko was awarded 'the Best Corporate Governance in Finland' by World Finance Magazine. The company was also included on the 2012 list of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world for the eighth consecutive year.

Safeway Inc.

Headquarters: USA

Safeway is the second-largest supermarket chain in North America operating 1,702 stores in the United States and western Canada.

The grocery chain recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a program designed to help Americans make healthier choices.


Headquarters: Portugal

Sonae is the largest privately-owned employer in Portugal. In 2010, Sonae's food retail area won international certification for the quality of its own brands of food, hygiene and drug products.

The Co-operative Group

Headquarters: UK

The Co-operative Group is UK's fifth largest food retailer with more than 3,000 food stores and supermarkets around the country.

The company is run and owned by its own members, not by shareholders, which helps promote ethical business behaviour.


Whole Foods Market, Inc

Headquarters: USA

Whole Foods is the ninth largest food and drug store in the United States with more than 300 stores across 38 states.

The natural and organic supermarket chain ranked third on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's most recent list of Top 25 Green Power Partners.


Headquarters: USA

Costco Wholesale, the third largest retailer in the United States, is known for offering above-average pay for warehouse workers resulting in low turnover and happy employees.

This year, the retailer also ranked #20 on Fortune's list of the World's Most Admired Companies.

Marks and Spencer

Headquarters: UK

British retailer Marks and Spencer specialises in clothing and luxury food products.

In 2007, the retailing giant rolled out a 100-point five-year plan which made commitments to become 'a carbon neutral, zero-waste-to-landfill, ethical-trading, sustainable-sourcing, health-promoting business.'


Best Buy

Headquarters: USA

Best Buy operates more than 4,000 stores globally. The consumer electronics retailer was ranked 40th -- and 6th among retailers -- on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of the Nation's Leading Green Power Purchasers.


Headquarters: USA

OfficeMax operates more than 1,000 stores in the United States and Mexico. Since 2007, the office supply distributor has been involved with Adopt-A-Classroom, a program that surprises more than 1,000 teachers with over $1,000 in school supplies in a one-day event each year.


Headquarters: USA

The San-Diego-based pet supply store has more than 1,000 locations across the United States. In 2004, PETCO launched the 'Think Adoption First' program, which has helped more than three million pets find homes. The chain also offers a line of natural- and sustainable-based pet products made from reclaimed or recycled materials.

10 Thousand Villages

Headquarters: USA

10 Thousand Villages is a non-profit fair trade craft supplier. The company helps skilled artisans in developing countries earn income by bringing their handcrafted products to market. Artisans' wages help pay for basic needs such as food, shelter, education and healthcare.

These businesses have some work to do...

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.