I googled “sustainable companies” the other day and found two articles from forbes.com: “Ranking The World’s Most Sustainable Companies” and “The World’s Most Sustainable Companies” published on 27th of January 2010 and 23rd of January 2013 respectively.
Both of the articles referred to Corporate Knights’ yearly ranking of the world’s most sustainable companies. The top-10 companies for 2010 and 2013 are shown below.
- 2010: 8 out of the top ten from Europe, rest from the US
- 2013: 7 out of the top ten from Europe – number 2 from Brazil
- none of the companies from 2010 have made it to the top ten in 2013
- Nokia and Neste Oil have both made it to the top 5
- the lists contain companies from industries which usually are not closely linked to sustainability such as energy, clothing and transportation
For the 2010 ranking the companies on the list were initially chosen from 3000 publicly traded companies which were first narrowed down to 300 according to their financial performance among other things. Next these 300 companies were ranked based on their scores from 11 environmental, social, governance, and transparency metrics. The metrics included for instance CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio, energy productivity, and waste productivity.
By 2013 the amount of companies had increased; 350 companies were picked out of 4000 publicly traded companies again according to their financial performance as well as their sustainability disclosure practices. The final ranking was based on similar metrics as mentioned in 2010 and the companies were evaluated relative to other companies operating in the same industry.
I think it is good that this kind of rankings exist, yet it is a little bit questionable for instance to name H&M world’s 4th most sustainable company (in 2010) when the company’s business idea is based on cheap, fast fashion which in my opinion does not meet the requirements for sustainability in the long run. This year’s number one Umicore, however, seems to have earned its first place as the company operates in a sustainable manner and additionally sells products that help other companies to improve their sustainability.