The fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus has been recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies by a research center on best practices in corporate ethics and governance.
“This really speaks to the fact that a company can be committed to Church teaching, committed to Catholic values, and still provide a top quality service and be very successful at what they do,” Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and media with the Knights, told CNA March 21.
Timothy Erblich, CEO of the Ethisphere Institute, announced the award March 20, saying, “the Knights of Columbus join an exclusive community committed to driving performance through leading business practices. We congratulate everyone at Knights of Columbus for this extraordinary achievement.”
The institute named the New Haven, Conn.-based Catholic fraternal organization and life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company list. The Knights is only one of two companies in the life insurance category to be recognized.
The assessment is based on consideration of an organization’s ethics and compliance programs; its reputation, leadership and innovation; governance; corporate citizenship and responsibility; and culture of ethics.
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the fraternal organization, noted that it began more than 130 years ago to protect Catholic families who lose their breadwinner and to provide charity for those “on the margins of society.”
“Today, those same founding principles are at work in every aspect of our business, guiding our corporate governance, our professional agency force, our investments, and our day-to-day business operations,” Anderson said in a statement. “It is this continued commitment to our foundational, Catholic principles that is the key to our ethical, sustainable and successful business model.”
Walther added that the award is a testament to the fraternal benefit society’s commitment to “the same core Catholic founding values that have always guided our operations.”
He the Knights take the idea of fraternity “very, very seriously.”
“The idea of a strong brotherhood based on faith is something that is critical to forces for good in the world.”
The Knights’ insurance agent is himself a member of the organization. He provides insurance and long-term planning services to “his brother knights,” Walther explained. Agents aim at “really doing the best possible job” for insured members while working to follow the principle of protecting Catholic families established by the order’s founder, Father Michael McGivney.
“The entire idea is to have a company that really follows Catholic teaching.”
The Knights try to show their Catholic values “every step of the way” in its dealings with members, employees, and investments. The organization does not invest in companies whose actions “clash” with Catholic teaching, including companies involved in pornography, abortion, and “a host of other issues that would be antithetical to Catholic teaching.”
This means that insured members and families can have “the peace of mind that comes from dealing with people who share their values” and also work with a “top-rated insurer,” Walther said.
Rather than having to pay shareholders, the Knights direct insurance proceeds back to the community through charitable programs in the U.S. and around the world.
These programs help those in need and support local parishes, dioceses around the world, and the Vatican.
The Knights of Columbus offers insurance to members and their immediate families. The order has about 950 employees and almost 2 million insurance policies in force, totaling $93 billion in value.
There are more than 1.8 million Knights of Columbus in 15,000 councils around the world, and the organization donated more than $167.5 million and 70 million volunteer hours to charitable causes in 2013.