Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
May 25, 2016


“This celebration of corporate excellence was designed to recognize but also to bring out the best in American businesses, so that we’re able to export more than just U.S. capital, services, and products – but we also export American innovation, values, and high standards.”
- Secretary of State John Kerry -

2016 Award Categories

The award categories for the ACE are updated every year to align with U.S. foreign policy goals and to reflect the ways in which U.S. companies are demonstrating leadership in responsible conduct. For 2016, the award categories are:

ACE in Inclusive Hiring Practices:

Honors a company’s commitment to promoting an inclusive and diverse workplace, particularly with respect to hiring refugees as a core component of their business operations.

ACE in Transparent Operations:

Honors a company’s actions in a specific country to publish relevant information on their operations, which could include general activities, due diligence, engagement with local communities, and material information on ownership and governance structure, and/or financial information.

ACE in Sustainable Oceans Management:

Honors a company’s commitment to fostering sustainable oceans, promoting sustainable fisheries, preventing marine pollution, and preventing ocean acidification.

ACE by a Small or Medium Enterprise:

Honors a small or medium enterprise (SME) for exemplifying the highest ideals of responsible business through overall values, strategies, policies and procedures, and operational practices. (Note: Companies with revenue less than $1 billion will be eligible for the SME award.)

Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct (RBC) is a broad concept based on the ideas that businesses can do well while doing good and that governments should set and facilitate the conditions for this to take place. It places particular importance on two aspects of the business-society relationship:

1) emphasizing and accentuating the positive contributions businesses can make to economic, environmental, and social progress, and

2) recognizing and avoiding adverse impacts and addressing them when they occur.

The U.S. government is committed to playing a leadership role on RBC by advancing a whole-of-government approach to promoting RBC principles, and highlighting U.S. companies that stand out as RBC leaders and reliable partners, including through the ACE. In doing so, the U.S. government has shaped international standards to help ensure that rights are respected globally and that companies benefit by doing business responsibly.

Recommending a Nominee

ACE nominations are focused on the exemplary operations of a company in a specific country, and nominations are officially put forward to the Secretary’s office by Chiefs of Mission from U.S. embassies and consulates. As such, recommendations should be directed to a specific U.S. embassy or consulate, for the operations of a U.S. firm in that country. Chiefs of Mission will ultimately decide which recommendations will be sent forward as nominations to the Secretary of State and they retain final decision-making on such matters. Recommendations are due by June 30, 2016.


The annual Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) recognizes U.S. firms that uphold the highest standards of responsible business conduct in their global operations. Established in 1999, the ACE seeks to highlight ways in which U.S. companies represent American values in the way they do business, in line with international best practices such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

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