From fair trade fashion to eco-friendly packaging and game-changing renewables, these companies champion ethical business practices and meaningful change for a more sustainable future.

Below, we showcase the Australian ethical organisations making waves worldwide and explore how you can step up your game when it comes to doing better business.

Our pick of Australia’s most ethical businesses

Here is our list of top performers who walk the talk through mission-driven policies, procedures and company culture to have a real-world impact in their spaces.

These companies are B Corp certified and we’ve chosen them due to their proven ability to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

Let’s dive in.

Hepburn Energy

Home to Australia’s first community-owned wind farm, Hepburn Energy has been driving change in the energy and renewables sector for over a decade. Its iconic wind turbines in regional Victoria provide electricity to over 2,000 local homes that once relied heavily on coal-fired power.

A powerhouse by name and nature, Hepburn Energy has been consistently recognised in B Corp’s Best for the World list every year since certification in 2016. It can hang its hat on:

  • generating 99,633 megawatt-hours of energy in 2021, abating 106,610 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere
  • supporting local zero-net emissions projects like the Hepburn Solar Buy-Back and Hepburn EV Bulk Buy programs
  • winning the World Wind Energy Award 2012
  • maintaining a social enterprise certification

Now a member-owned co-operative, the company continues to advance its solar energy and battery storage efforts.


Etiko, derived from the Greek word for ‘ethical’, leads the way in feel-good fashion and footwear that is fair trade, organic and vegan.

The first brand of its kind in Australia, the company is respected for its unwavering commitment to minimising waste and reducing its environmental impact while flying the flag for fair trade fashion.

The company’s mantle is overflowing with accolades, including the highest-ranking brand from 2013–2021 in the Australian Ethical Fashion Report, along with:

  • first fashion brand to win the 2016 Human Right Awards
  • Fairtrade Product of the Year at Australian Fairtrade Awards
  • multiple sustainability and social responsibility awards

Etiko runs a used fashion Take Back Program and continues to support worthwhile charities, like Save The Children, Sea Shepherd and The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Australian Ethical Investment

Aptly named, Australian Ethical Investment (AE) puts its money where its mouth is to pursue a ‘world where money is a force for good’. Driven by purpose and not just profit, the company says no to investing in animal testing, human rights abuses, uranium mines, gambling and big tobacco.

According to their 2022 annual report, AE’s portfolio boasts 77 per cent lower CO2 intensity for listed companies and 5.6 times more investment in renewables and energy solutions than the industry benchmark.

The company won SuperRatings Infinity Award for Best Sustainable Super Fund three years in a row and was crowned Best for the World Honourees for customer and governance by B Corp in 2022.


Catering to environmentally conscious consumers, BioPak is a market leader in eco-friendly  food packaging that ‘puts the planet first’.

Chances are, you’ve nibbled salad from one of their innovative BioBowls or sipped freshly roasted coffee from a takeaway cup designed to be commercially composted as part of the circular economy.

While BioPak has met its fair share of composting and recycling challenges, they remain a trailblazer for sustainable packaging made from mostly renewable materials.

In 2022, BioPak’s efforts:

  • diverted 21,211 tonnes of plastic from landfill
  • offset 90,538 tonnes of carbon
  • planted 34,041 greenhouse-gas-busting trees
  • created over 1,460 tonnes of compost

The company has won a raft of packaging and stewardship awards and donated over $3.5 million to community partners via its Give Back Fund since 2012.

Outland Denim

Outland Denim is an Australian fashion brand focused on creating premium-quality denim products to support survivors of human trafficking and help break the cycle of modern slavery.

The brand, which has established a cult following and is worn by celebrities, employs a small team in Australia and more than 126 team members in Cambodia who produce denim products that:

  • are made with up to 96 per cent less energy and 86 per cent less water
  • are manufactured with 100 per cent traceable organic cotton denim
  • pay a living wage and create opportunities for people in need
  • tackle the global problem of textile waste in the fashion industry

As one of only 10 businesses honoured in the 2019 CO Leadership Awards, they continue investing in research, waste management and education programs for the greater good.

The importance of business ethics

Ethics are the driving force for impactful change that guides behaviour and decision-making for individuals and organisations. So, what makes a company ethical?

Ethical companies consider the impact of their actions and decisions to ensure they can generate profit while doing good for stakeholders and society.

“A lot of people think about ethics as a philosophy, but the word ‘ethics’ is actually a verb — it’s what we do that matters,” says David Penglase, author and corporate ethics educator.

“Everything we say and do sends a clear message about who we are and what we represent. And for that reason, understanding ethical or moral behaviour has become important for leaders and everyone within the organisation.”

A 2022 report by the Governance Institute of Australia showed that Australians hold high ethical expectations for action, particularly around climate change, and that trust in business is trending downwards. Paired with research revealing that 9 in 10 Aussie consumers are more inclined to buy ethical and sustainable products, it’s easy to see why companies need to prioritise ethics to win back trust.

“If organisations want to raise profitability and overall success by whatever measure,” says Penglase, “they need to build trust across all realms of an organisation. Trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal lives.”

Ethical issues in business

When moral standards are skewed or not well considered, several ethical issues can emerge in business.

  • exploitation can cause suffering across the supply chain
  • discrimination may ostracise employees and customers
  • corruption can undermine the integrity of business operations
  • decisions can have a negative, long-term impact on the environment
  • employee and consumer safety can become compromised
  • accounts may be ‘cooked’ or falsely reported
  • data privacy could breach, resulting in a loss of trust and fines
  • intellectual property may fall into the wrong hands

According to Penglase, the biggest issue facing many companies is that often, ethics only come into question when a problem arises.

How can a business be more ethical?

The list of ways a business can become more ethical is endless, but this list serves as a good starting point.

  • Develop a code of ethics. Establish clear ethical standards and policies aligned with organisational goals and values, and review them regularly.
  • Lead by example. Foster an ethical culture within the workplace by communicating moral codes, supporting ethical design and decision-making, paying fair wages, promoting diversity and remaining transparent.
  • Tackle issues head on. Take swift action to address ethical concerns for a timely resolution. Use what you learn to revise and improve your approach and prevent ethical mishaps in the future.
  • Seek further education. Harness the power of training to develop your understanding and approach to business ethics. Pursuing a specialised degree program, like the Master of Business Administration by Victoria University  or James Cook University’s Master of Business Administration Global, can equip leaders with the knowledge and skills to succeed across all aspects of ethical business practice.
  • Consider this question. When it comes time to make an ethical decision, ask yourself: if this decision were to come to light, would it pass the light of day test? In other words, if the decision or action were laid bare for the world to see, would you feel proud of your choice? Behaving ethically in business “really does come down to each of us thinking deeply about what impacts our decisions will have,” says Penglase, “because that’s the bit that most leaders often fail to think about.”

Study ethics as part of an online MBA

Taking ethical action isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business. As an owner, manager or aspiring leader, it’s important to understand the principles of ethical behaviour and how to apply them in the workplace.

Get up to speed with the latest thinking in ethical business practices as part of an online Master of Business Administration with Victoria University, Southern Cross University, James Cook University or RMIT.

Chat with a Student Enrolment Advisor about completing a specialised MBA today.

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