04.27.10

The Most Corrupt Professions

Following Goldman’s Capitol Hill grilling, The Daily Beast crunched the numbers to determine the most corrupt line of work in America. Good news for Wall Street: You’re not number one! VIEW OUR GALLERY for the results.

Wall Street had a rough day yesterday, with Goldman Sachs leadership hauled in front of a Senate committee, while their colleagues fought over the most wide-ranging financial regulation reform since the Great Depression.

Click Here to View America's Most Corrupt Industries

Given that most believe Wall Street has the ethical standards of, well, Bernie Madoff, we thought we’d measure how corrupt the financial industry really is, at least in comparison with other major professions. We partnered with Transparency International, a global anti-corruption research think tank that tackled this subject just last year. TI examined 500 global companies and assigned scores based on the companies’ anti-corruption and ethics policies. Working with The Daily Beast, they sorted their information solely to American companies.

The data obtained from TI included 120 of the biggest companies based in the United States, though the study did not include firms in the consumer manufacturing sector and it uses only publicly available information. The study answers: Does an industry’s companies have effective anti-corruption strategies? Do they have concrete anti-corruption policies? And do they have specific systems in place to deal with corruption? Ties were broken by The Daily Beast factoring in the overall size of the industry. For our purposes, the higher the ranking, the more corrupt the profession.

Yesterday, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein struck a defiant tone against his Senate interrogators: “We believe deeply in a culture that prizes teamwork, depends on honesty and rewards saying no as much as saying yes,” he said in his prepared statement, as executive after executive denied any wrongdoing.

Blankfein may very well be vindicated, and while we can’t speak for Goldman in particular, the company’s sector is, in fact, not the most corruption-prone. But only barely. Who was worst? Click here.

This ranking was written and researched by Clark Merrefield and Lauren Streib.