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Henderson-based Zappos earns honors for ethics

Updated Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | 7:14 a.m.

Zappos.com, the online retailer based in Henderson, Monday was named one of the world's most ethical companies in a ranking compiled by the Ethisphere Institute.

"We try to be as open and honest as we can. Some do that in efforts to be ethical, but we just think of it as the right thing to do," Zappos.com Chief Financial Officer Alfred Lin said.

The institute and its quarterly magazine Ethisphere are known for fighting corruption and promoting ethics in business and government. The list ranks 99 companies out of some 10,000 that were reviewed. Companies in 100 countries in 35 industries were considered.

Zappos.com, which wasn't ranked last year, has among its core values to ``build open and honest relationships with communication.''

The Henderson company and its 1,500 employees, known for selling shoes, also sell clothing and accessories such as handbags and wallets; and electronics.

Known for its creative, laid-back and yet hard-working atmosphere, Zappos.com this year debuted on Fortune magazine's list of the Best Companies to Work For, ranking No. 23.

Other companies on the ethical companies list familiar to Southern Nevadans include the Cleveland Clinic, which is expanding to Las Vegas to operate a brain center; hotel operator Marriott International; Safeway, owner of Vons stores; Trader Joe's, McDonald's, Best Buy, Gap, Starbucks, HSBC, UPS, T-Mobile and Target.

The criteria to make the list, Ethisphere said, include corporate citizenship and responsibility; corporate governance standards, innovation contributing to the public well being, leadership within the firm's industry, the firm's reputation and compliance with legal and regulatory standards; and having internal systems and compliance mechanisms for ethics.

“Operating as an ethical leader requires a significant commitment from companies that goes beyond lip service and demands real action and change,” Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute, said in a statement. “After a rigorous and competitive selection process, the companies on this year’s list have demonstrated an understanding that ethical practices are not only necessary, but can support a stronger and more solid business overall. We commend them for their admirable contributions to their respective industries and look forward to their continued leadership in the years to come.”

Robert Dotson, president and CEO of T-Mobile USA, told the Ethisphere Institute that the real test of a company’s ethics program is the extent to which it is in the fabric of all employees.

"Our employees know that getting great results is only part of the equation," he said. "We expect everyone to get the right results, the right way. ‘Performance’ and ‘values’ are like two wings of an airplane – they are both required for success, and you really would never try flying without one of them."

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