Answer by Kyle Murao:

Among big US corporations, there's really only one answer to this question:

Costco Wholesale Corporation

Seriously, this is a complete no-brainer. Consider the following.

  • Considerate of regular folks: The hot dog & soda combo costs $1.50, which is the same price as it was 30 years ago. Costco has stated that the price of a rotisserie chicken will remain $4.99 for the foreseeable future. Why? When Wall Street piled on the pressure to raise prices, the CFO replied that Costco was willing to risk erosion of its margins to keep these foods affordable for low-income shoppers.
  • Treatment of customers 1: Amazing return policy and warranty on big-ticket items.
  • Treatment of customers 2: Refundable membership fees, with no questions asked. Also, if you don't spend enough to justify the membership fee, Costco will refund you the difference.
  • Old people & sick people: Costco's pharmacy has some of the lowest prices for generics of any big store, often beating the traditional guys like Walgreens and CVS.
  • Top-notch quality: You can buy USDA Prime beef there. I can say from considerable personal experience that Kirkland brand vodka and scotch are excellent. And the high-end cheese and charcuterie selection will match Whole Foods' any day.
  • Treatment of employees 1: It pays much better than its competitors. The average Wal-Mart employee is paid $8.81 per hour. The average Costco employee is paid $20.89 per hour.
  • Treatment of employees 2: 90% of Costco's employees have employer-sponsored health insurance. Costco is also ranked #19 out of the biggest 1000 corporations in the US as a friendly place for LGBTQ workers.
  • Treatment of employes 3: Thanks to Deborah, it turns out Costco promotes 70% of its intermediate management positions from within rather than externally. This means (presumably) that entry-level employees are supervised by people who've been in their shoes before. Costco also has ridiculously low turnover rates–less than 6% for all employees, less than 1% for senior staff–which suggests that most people don't mind working there, given the alternatives.

And, in the thing that matters most to a ruthless, rightwing, baby-eating, blood-sucking capitalist Republican like me, Costco's return on equity since the Financial Crisis has mopped the floor with Wal-Mart's:

While I like Kris Rosvold of course–great mustache and all–this just goes to show that publicly traded corporations aren't, in themselves, evil. It depends how the company's culture works.

What is the most ethical U.S. corporation?


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