Tech titans Microsoft and Google, have been named to the Ethisphere Institute's list of the World's Most Ethical Companies for 2015.
Commenting on the accolade, Lori Forte Harnick, general manager for Citizenship and Public Affairs at Microsoft, brought up the theme of trust, which has emerged as a call to arms for the multinational corporation in recent years. "Trust is paramount to the success of any business. At Microsoft, we work hard to build and maintain trust through a shared commitment to ethical and transparent business practices," she said in a statement.
Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative aside, the company has been embroiled in efforts to ensure the security and privacy of its customers' data, for both enterprises and consumers. This includes a high-profile court case involving a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) request for emails stored in a data center located in Ireland.
The Redmond, Wash.-based company is currently appealing a ruling by Manhattan's U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska to turn over the emails to the DOJ. Warning that the ruling treads on European privacy laws and can potentially stall cloud computing's growth, Microsoft, with the support of several technology and media companies, is fighting the decision.
She added that her company's "commitments to ethical business practices and strong corporate governance policies are designed to promote the long-term interests of our shareholders, maintain internal checks and balances, promote accountability at all levels of our organization, and foster responsible decision making." Microsoft has taken home the honor five years in a row.
Microsoft is one of the four software companies listed by the Ethisphere Institute. Other honorees include Adobe, Symantec and Teradata, all U.S.-based.
Google, meanwhile, is the only company in the computer services category to be placed on the list. The influential search and Internet advertising giant has garnered a reputation for being outspoken on a number of social issues.
In February, Google announced it was awarding one of its RISE
Awards to Engineers Without Borders Australia, a nonprofit working on computer science
outreach with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal girls. The RISE Awards are grants that Google gives to organizations that promote computer science education and support girls and underrepresented minorities in technology.
"Since 2010, more than 200 organizations have received an award, and this year, 37 organizations are receiving a cumulative $1.5 million to keep this vital effort humming
along," noted Roxana Shirkhoda, a specialist in K12/Pre-University Education
Outreach at Google, in a blog post.
"Honorees not only promote ethical business standards and practices internally, they exceed legal compliance minimums and shape future industry standards by introducing best practices today," states the institute's Website.
A total of 132 companies from across more than 50 industries comprise this year's list. Other notable companies include the Ford Motor Company, Dell, Xerox and T-Mobile.
"Companies today are challenged by a complex and often conflicting set of laws and regulations around the world, yet despite the lack of a global rule of law there's a growing commonality about how to do business the right way," said Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich, in a statement.
Corporate social responsibility is not only gaining mind share among the general population, it's increasingly viewed as a business-boosting attribute, he added. "More and more, we're finding that stakeholders from employees and customers to executives and investors understand that ethical leadership drives outcomes ranging from operational performance to corporate integrity, transparency and workforce behavior."