Top 20 unethical companies in the world (Allegedly)

Climate Real Talk Team

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There are many companies that make unethical practices. Some of these businesses take advantage of their customers, cheating them out of their money or selling unsafe food. 

There are many unethical companies that have been proven to be unethical over and over again, and these companies have managed to stay in business.

It is hard to believe that there are businesses out there that actually do not put the safety, satisfaction, and health of their customers and workers at the forefront.

In this article, we have curated a list of 20 allegedly unethical companies in the world.

Disclaimer: This article is a curation of information already on the internet, and therefore not a personal opinion. Readers are advised to take the information on this page with a pinch of salt.

What is Ethical and Unethical?

The definition of ethical is something that adheres to moral principles. A significant component of ethical behavior is showing respect for key moral values, including honesty, fairness, equality, dignity, diversity, and individual rights.

Unethical behavior is an action that deviates from what is morally right or acceptable for a person, a profession, or an industry. There are many ways that companies engage in unethical business practices, exploiting their workers, their customers, and even the public at large.

These are 4 essential things to note when assessing if a company has questionable ethics  They have poor customer service

  •  They cheat their workers
  •  They damage the environment 
  •  They bribe government officials
Nestle is an unethical companies

When a company has all of these characteristics, then there is no question that the company is unethical, and it should be boycotted. 

In the same vein, ethical companies are the direct opposite of unethical companies. They have ethical business practices.

  • They are conscious of the environment 
  • They put people first, and create favorably businesses practices
  • They champion animal rights and many more.

There are many unethical companies out there, but this list is going to examine the ethical issues on the top 20 worst ones.

1. Nestle

The baby killer scandal

Nestle is the world’s largest food and drink corporation. Nestle was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims about their infant formula. Nestle claimed that its formula was an excellent substitute for breast milk, despite it not being close to it.

According to a report by the IBFAN, Nestle provides hospitals with free baby formula for a week. This might sound charitable. However, if you take a closer look at the implications, it becomes clear that it is nothing but a cunning marketing ploy.

According to the National Public Radio, In addition to taking water from a city experiencing a severe water shortage, Nestle also sells that water for exorbitant sums to developing countries lacking access to safe drinking water.

In 2009, the FDA and CDC warned consumers to stay away from eating any variations of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough because of the risk of foodborne bacteria(E. coli O157:H7). 

More than 50 people in 30 states in the United States became ill as a result of it, with half of them being hospitalized. A woman already contracted a deadly infection before the batch was reclaimed.

2. Tesco

TESCO supermarket

Tesco supermarket is a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer with headquarters in Welwyn Garden City. The word “Tesco” is an acronym for “T” The “E” English “S” supermarket “Co” Company. Tesco has been involved in numerous controversies.

In 2011, Tesco was found guilty of breaking competition law by paying its suppliers not to compete. Tesco was fined £300,000 for misleading customers regarding the sale of strawberries. 

Trading Standards in Birmingham brought the case stating that £1.99 strawberries on sale in Sheldon, Birmingham, had not been for sale at £3.99 long enough. Tesco admitted misleading customers into believing that the strawberries on sale were genuine “half price.

In addition to this, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has on a number of occasions ordered the recall of Tesco branded products, including a case of glass contamination. Environmental Health Officers served a closure order on Tesco’s store in Prussia Street, Dublin, the day after they inspected it, for a number of breaches of Food Hygiene Regulations.

3. Coca-cola

Coca-cola company

Coca-cola is the largest beverage company in the world, and along with Pepsi, it dominates the soft drinks industry. Big damage to Coke’s reputation came when 1,490 African American employees filed a lawsuit alleging serious racial discrimination.

Nonetheless, Coke is the leading polluter of the environment due to weak waste disposal mechanisms, higher water consumption, and increased production of non-recycled packaging tools.

 In order to fulfill its vision, mission, and goals, Coca-Cola has made it part of the corporate culture to work in safe surroundings and focus on making unhealthy drinks.

Coca-Cola has been criticized or sued over health issues. This is mainly because of its high levels of caffeine, which is a psycho-stimulant and a diuretic. 

4. Nike

Nike is an Oregon-based company that manufactures athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment. It has been charged with employing underage labor and fostering environments of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Additionally, labor rights organizations do not independently monitor their factories.

The discovery that Nike uses Uyhgar for forced labor has intensified the outcry and boycott against the company.

Another well-known practice of the American multinational business is the employment of toxic chemicals, that are highly harmful to the environment and factory workers.

Nike has faced lawsuits as a result of its gender discrimination policy. For example, in 2004, the Human Rights Campaign filed a lawsuit against Nike for its sexual discrimination policy. The complaint alleged that the company’s decision to make female employees heads while male employees were promoted was discriminatory. 

5. Adidas

Adidas is a German company that manufactures athletic shoes, clothing, and accessories. After Nike, Adidas is the second-largest sportswear producer in the world. The company, like its competitor, has been known to employ children and sweatshops to produce goods at low costs, which helped it grow into the multinational company that it is today.

Adidas clothing is subjected to numerous chemical treatments to make it more vibrant, flexible, durable, or water-repellent, which is another characteristic of the sportswear sector. These processes have harmed local ecosystems over time and polluted the rivers.

Additionally, the business employs synthetic microfibers, which it acknowledges are damaging to the environment but vital for its products. These are all unethical business practices.

6. Victoria’s Secret 

Victoria’s Secret has faced a wave of criticism for its production of sweatshop products and environmentally harmful materials. It also has a toxic culture of sexual harassment of its models. Although the company is secretive about all the factories they collaborate with, it is well known that they employ slave labor in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Jordan.

7. L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean made headlines in 2017 after then-President-elect Donald Trump expressed his support for the company on social media. This sparked a political reaction that led to the Grab Your Wallet movement, which urged its supporters to boycott the company. If you quit purchasing L.L. Bean at that time, great. If not, you might want to think about Uyhgar labor as the moral justification to stop doing so.

8. Amazon

Amazon is one of the largest corporations in the world. The company, which specializes in e-commerce, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence, is worth more than $700 billion.

Many of Amazon’s warehouse workers are hired through temp agencies and do not receive any benefits. While the company pretends to pay them six figures, they are only paid through temp agencies and receive no benefits.

Amazon is also responsible for the pollution of the environment, as it was revealed that it uses almost all petroleum and steel to ship products within its warehouses.

Also, thousands of Amazon workers have alleged sexual harassment in their working environment. The company is also known for its aggressive tax avoidance.

TUC published a study about Amazon’s maltreatment of its employees in October 2020. It was discovered that workers in Amazon warehouses put in an average of 55 hours per week and 10 hours per day, were required to pack about 300 products every hour, and faced harassment, reprimands, or termination if they fell short of their goals. 

Workers frequently had to urinate in bottles because they felt unable to take breaks or use the restroom.


ASDA supermarket

ASDA is an acronym for Associated Dairies. It is an English supermarket chain that specializes in grocery and fresh food. It is one of the largest companies in the world, with more than 10,000 stores.

The company has faced a number of controversies in the past, including the death of an employee who was cleaning products with other toxic substances at work. The Health and Safety Executive also received complaints from employees regarding dangerous working conditions.

ASDA do not grant their staff decent pay, while sixty-one percent believe supermarkets damage local communities because of their market dominance. Three-quarters of shoppers would back new rules to stop supermarkets from exploiting suppliers in developing countries

They have also faced criticism for the products they sell, which contain chemicals that are harmful to workers and the environment. The sale and manufacturing of some ASDA products are harmful to the environment and workers. 

10. GAP

GAP is the largest clothing company in the world. It is known for its innovative designs and high-quality products. It employs millions of workers from all over the world to keep up with its production quotas.

The company has previously been under fire for underpaying its employees for overtime, putting them in dangerous working environments, and even forcing female workers to have abortions.

The brand also has been criticized for the sale of children’s products that use toxic chemicals and materials. It is worth mentioning that the company’s products use the lowest possible price and the highest possible quantity to be sold.

11. The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company is a multinational American multimedia production and distribution company. It produces and distributes several genres of film and television, including Netflix television series.

It has received criticism over the years for its use of exploitative and unstable labor. The company has faced a number of sexual harassment claims regarding Harvey Weinstein, who is its former co-founder.

To make matters worse, the company exploited the vulnerable situation of its female employees.

12. The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company is a global entertainment business that has risen to become one of the largest media companies in the world. 

The company has been accused of exploiting the illegal labor of its employees around the world. It is responsible for many toxic waste sites that pollute the environment and harm local communities.

It has also been charged with racial discrimination that the company uses software that could select white employees’ resumes based on names.

13. United Airlines

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world. It is also one of the most controversial companies in the country.

The company has faced many setbacks during its operations due to its poor management, negligence, and pollution of the environment.

Dr. David Dao, a passenger on a United Airlines flight, was dragged off of one on April 9. Security personnel is seen taking Dao out of his seat and dragging him down the aisle by his wrists in a video that was captured by other passengers.

It has also been accused of discriminating against children, women, and the elderly. It is responsible for various incidents that resulted in deaths.

14. KFC

KFC is an acronym for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is one of the largest fast food companies in the world. It has a presence on almost every continent. It is known for its fried chicken and fried chicken products.

Many KFC workers work in deplorable conditions and are exploited by the company. This is due to the fact that the company provides poor wages and working conditions, and employees used the chickens as a means to vent frustrations and alleviate boredom. 

They twisted the bird’s heads off, spat tobacco into their eyes and mouths, spray-painted their faces, used them as footballs, and squeezed their bodies so hard that the birds passed out feces.

15. Walmart

Walmart is a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. It is also the largest private employer with about 2.3 million employees

In order to meet Wal-Mart standards, The firm consistently puts pressure on its suppliers to lower their prices, which leads to those companies placing even more unreasonable and harsh demands on their workers.

Other worker rights violations that have been discovered in foreign factories that produce goods for Wal-Mart include locked bathrooms, starvation wages, pregnancy tests, denial of access to health care, and workers being fired and blacklisted if they try to defend their rights. Workers were also denied the minimum wage, and forced to work overtime without pay.

16. Apple

Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California. It is known for its hardware and software products, such as the iPhone and iPad.

The company has faced a number of controversies in the past, which include complaints that its retail chain employees are forced to work unpaid overtime and do not receive benefits. 

Additionally, the business engages in the employment of children (those under the age of 15) in China where it makes its products, and the falsification of records. These children are forced to work in dangerous conditions, inhaling cancerous vapors, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Employees receive less wage than what is appropriate for the time they spend working, which is a violation of their rights and an unethical practice.

17. Toyota

The Toyota Motor Corporation is a multinational automotive manufacturer headquartered in Toyota, Aichi, Japan. It is one of the largest automakers in the world by revenue.

In 2010, Toyota committed a significant ethical breach when they essentially broke their corporate pledge by ignoring safety concerns and postponing recall investigations so they could make save money.

This shows that all they seem to care about is profits. It doesn’t matter the consequences even if it means the death of an individual.

18. H&M 

Hennes & Mauritz AB is a multinational clothing company that owns several brands. 

H&M has been exposed to greenwashing, but the company doesn’t seem to be making any changes. They’ve also failed in giving its workers fair wages as they promised.

Given the unmet promises, the brand’s actions are at best described as hypocrisy.

19. Shein

Shein is a fast fashion, Chinese-based apparel retailer. It is another merchant that copies well-known designs at a low cost and sells them as originals. Their products are mainly cheap and low-quality clothing.

However, a lot of buyers have expressed dissatisfaction as the item they receive is totally different from the online image. This shows that their customer service is really poor.

Shein is not open about its impact on the environment or the welfare of animals in addition to being a fast-fashion retailer that lacks sustainability.

20. Facebook

Facebook app

Facebook, Inc. is an American online social media and social networking service company.

The company has been exposed to many controversies and has engaged in a number of unethical practices. It has only focused on the financial aspects of its business, and it has ignored the personal data privacy of its users.

The company has also been accused of abusing its role as a media distributor. It is also responsible for spreading fake news and misinformation.

Facebook has also been exposed to a number of privacy-related lawsuits and has often been criticized for the amount of information it collects on its users.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that unethical companies have become rampant in the global marketplace. They fail to meet their corporate social responsibility, destroy the environment, exploit employees and cause harm to society.

These companies affect the lives of millions of people across the globe. It is, therefore, vital to hold these businesses accountable for their actions and to ensure that they adhere to high ethical principles.

See also what are industrial air pollution and 3 amazing ways to reduce it

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