Ethisphere CEO Tim Erblich

Ethisphere CEO Tim Erblich

To celebrate the ninth annual World’s Most Ethical Companies list, the Ethisphere Institute hosted the World’s Most Ethical Companies Gala in New York last night.

More than 520 representatives from this year’s honorees — including Thomson Reuters — joined dignitaries at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan for this year’s event.

Gala attendees also were treated to a host of speakers, including Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of The Aspen Institute; Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of charity:water; and Dr. Joseph M. Salley, president and CEO of Milliken & Company.

“With great success comes great responsibility,” said Tim Erblich, CEO of Ethisphere, who also spoke at the Global Law Summit, respectfully channeling Uncle Ben from Spider-Man. Chief among his comments was the simple fact that the idea of ethical business pays dividends.

After a rousing introduction, Walter Isaacson stepped to the stage. Reflecting on his biography of Steve Jobs, he noted his interviews with Jobs and the Apple leaders’ joy introducing technology, which is timely, given today’s unveiling of the Apple Watch. Isaacson pointed to that joy as an intersection of business, arts, sciences, and ethics.

“Computers and technology will be able to do everything, but one [thing] they can’t do is…be creative,” he noted, reflecting on Ada Lovelace’s theory. But despite these differences, Isaacson reinforced that while man and machine are fundamentally different, it’s humanity’s connection to ethical precepts through technology that can lead to great things. As he noted, the power of collaboration — between humans and technology — can achieve truly remarkable results.

The one notion each of the speakers shared was a unified idea of ethics, something Dr. Jack London also noted. There’s an understood, but unspoken, idea that ethics unifies us all.

As Erblich noted, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was one global rule of law?”