Is it April Fool's already?
TechFlash reported Wednesday that Microsoft has been named one of the world's most ethical companies. Compiled yearly by the Ethisphere Institute, the list contains 110 companies in 38 different categories, ranging from aerospace to transportation and logistics. Microsoft is one of five software companies named.
Considering how much antitrust trouble the company has been in around the globe, not to mention the OOXML fiasco and the patent litigation it's lost, that one is hard to believe. To be fair, a lot of Microsoft's missteps did happen years ago. And in 2009, court records indicated the requirements to settle its U.S. antitrust charges were "substantially complete." But seriously? Microsoft is among the ethical elite?
I dug around to learn more about Ethisphere's selection methodology. Here's what I found:
At the heart of the evaluation and selection process for Ethisphere's World's Most Ethical Companies is Ethisphere's proprietary rating system, the Ethics Quotient (EQ). The framework of EQ is comprised of a series of multiple choice questions that capture a company's performance in an objective, consistent and standardized way. The EQ framework consists of five core categories: ethics and compliance program (30 percent); reputation, leadership and innovation (30 percent); governance (15 percent) and corporate citizenship and responsibility (25 percent).
The categories and their respective weights seem to make sense. However, the fact that the companies themselves apply for the designation and answer their own questionnaire gives me pause.
Then again, Ethisphere also makes clear that weight is also given to a company's activities (or lack thereof) in comparison to its peers. Google, Apple and others in the category don't have stellar track records in the ethics department based on the above criteria, either. Maybe this year, Microsoft's was actually better. Maybe that's the difference.