On the periphery of the 2020 Davos World Economic Forum – which produced flashy moments, big talk, and few actual solutions from the world’s richest and most powerful people – Corporate Knights released it’s annual list of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations, known as the Global 100.

The list uses 21 key performance indicators to evaluate companies with more than $1 billion in 2018 revenues on “resource management, employee management, financial management, clean revenue and supplier performance.” See their full methodology here. Notable criteria include:

  • Carbon Productivity
  • Lost-time Injury Rate
  • Percentage Taxes Paid
  • CEO-Average Work Pay Ratio
  • Percentage Women on Board
  • Percentage Clean Revenues

Using this publicly-available data, Corporate Knights assessed 7,395 companies to identify the Global 100. The list (posted below) not only identifies global leaders in corporate sustainability, it speaks volumes to the value of sewing sustainability into the corporate fabric.

Sustainable corporations enjoy better returns and greater longevity

A comparison between the Global 100 and the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) shows that “sustainable corporate performance is consistent with equal or better returns for investors and greater corporate longevity.” In fact, analysis from Solactive shows the average age of Global 100 companies is 83 years, whereas MSCI ACWI companies last 49 years on average.

Solactive also calculated an “annualized net investment return” of 7.3% for the Global 100 Index, compared to 7.0% for the MSCI ACWI.

Sustainable corporations outperform in equity and carbon efficiency

Compared to MSCI ACWI companies, Global 100 companies lead in the following categories:

Metric Global 100 MSCI ACWI
CEO-to-average-worker-pay ratio 75:1 302:1
Carbon productivity (revenue-to-tonne-C02e ratio) $384k $174k
Clean revenues (from products or services with beneficial
environmental or social impacts as % of total revenues)
37% 6%
% of women on boards 30% 24%
Executive pay linked to sustainability measures (% of
companies having such a link)
63% 17%

SOURCE Cision.

Does supporting sustainable corporations matter? Studies find that consumer action from 3% of a marketplace would have a significant impact.

Restructuring to sustainability is possible – and profitable

This year’s most sustainable corporation, Danish renewable energy provider Ørsted, completely flipped its energy profile from 85% fossil fuels and 15% renewables to 85/15 in favor of renewables in a decade. It’s targeted 2025 to become “essentially carbon neutral.”

Neste, a Finish oil refiner ranked third on the Global 100, is currently transitioning from away from crude oil in favor of bio based materials.

Cisco, the highest-ranked U.S. company, ascended 10 spots to fourth place on the Global 100 after making “$25 billion in clean revenues from products with environmental core attributes.” The fifth-ranked company, U.S.-based Autodesk, rose 43 places after to converting to “99% renewable energy to run its cloud platforms.” Autodesk’s software powers green innovations in building, manufacturing and promoting a circular economy.

Remember, these companies were required to achieve a minimum $1 billion in revenue in 2018 to be on the list.

The Global 100 isn’t so global

Europe dominates with 49 sustainable corporations in the Global 100. 18 companies from Asia are the list, all three Latin American representatives are based in Brazil, and South Africa’s Standard Bank is the lone African company. The United States and Canada have a combined 29 companies on the list. The 16 American companies include, in order of appearance:

Cisco Systems, Inc.; Autodesk Inc; Hewlett Packard Enterprises Co; American Water; McCormick & Company; Prologis Inc; Sims Metal Management Ltd; Danaher Corporation; HP Inc; Alphabet Inc; Comerica Incorporated; Tesla Inc; Workday Inc; Merck & Co Inc; Intel Corporation; Analog Devices Inc; Campbell Soup Company.

What do we do with this information?

Everything! If sustainability has any place in your conscience, let the Global 100 influence your everyday consumer actions (what’s up Campbell Soup?) and your financial decisions (we see you Comerica Incorporated). Take a personal interest in one of these sustainable corporations by investing in stock or applying for a job in a Global 100 company.

Most important: stand back and ask, if these companies can make over $1 billion in annual revenue while championing sustainability and equity, why can’t others?

The Global 100:

Full company nameCountryPeer Group
1Orsted A/SDenmarkWholesale Power
2Chr. Hansen Holding A/SDenmarkFood and Other Chemical Agents
3Neste OyjFinlandPetroleum Refineries
4Cisco Systems IncUnited StatesCommunications Equipment
5Autodesk IncUnited StatesSoftware
6Novozymes A/SDenmarkSpecialty and Performance Chemicals
7ING Groep NVNetherlandsBanks
8Enel SpAItalyWholesale Power
9Banco do Brasil SABrazilBanks
10Algonquin Power & Utilities CorpCanadaElectric Utilities
11OSRAM Licht AGGermanyElectrical Equipment and Power Systems
12Sekisui Chemical Co LtdJapanOther Materials
13Storebrand ASANorwayInsurance
14Umicore SABelgiumPrimary Metals Products
15Hewlett Packard Enterprise CoUnited StatesComputer Hardware
16American WaterUnited StatesWater Utilities
17Iberdrola SASpainWholesale Power
18Outotec OyjFinlandMachinery Manufacturing
19CEMIGBrazilElectric Utilities
20Accenture PLCIrelandTechnology Consulting Services
21Dassault Systèmes SEFranceSoftware
22McCormick & CompanyUnited StatesFood and Beverage Production
23Kering SAFranceApparel and Accessory Products
24UPM-Kymmene OyjFinlandForestry and Paper Products
25Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co
TaiwanSemiconductor Equipment and Services
26Prologis IncUnited StatesReal Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
27Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M)SwedenApparel and Accessories Retail
28Sanofi SAFranceBiopharmaceuticals
29Schneider Electric SEFranceIndustrial Conglomerates
30Natura Cosmeticos SABrazilPersonal Care and Cleaning Products
31BNP Paribas SAFranceBanks
32KONE OyjFinlandMachinery Manufacturing
33Verbund AGAustriaWholesale Power
34Valeo SAFranceConsumer Vehicles and Parts
35ERG SpAItalyWholesale Power
36City Developments LtdSingaporeReal Estate Investment and Services
37Vestas Wind Systems A/SDenmarkElectrical Equipment and Power Systems
38bioMérieuxFranceDiagnostics and Drug Delivery Devices
39Intesa Sanpaolo SpAItalyBanks
40Koninklijke KPN NVNetherlandsWireless and Wireline
Telecommunications Services
41Siemens AGGermanyIndustrial Conglomerates
42National Australia Bank LtdAustraliaBanks
43Shinhan Financial Group Co LtdSouth KoreaBanks
44Bombardier IncCanadaAerospace and Defence Manufacturing
45Koninklijke DSM NVNetherlandsFood and Other Chemical Agents
46Unilever PLCUnited
Personal Care and Cleaning Products
47Sims Metal Management LtdUnited StatesPrimary Metals Products
48Bank of MontrealCanadaBanks
49Cascades IncCanadaContainers and Packaging
50Advantech Co LtdTaiwanComputer Hardware
51Standard Bank Group LtdSouth AfricaBanks
52EricssonSwedenCommunications Equipment
53Danaher CorporationUnited StatesMedical Devices
54Canadian National Railway CoCanadaCargo Transportation and Infrastructure
55Adidas AGGermanyApparel and Accessory Products
56AstraZeneca PLCUnited
57Stantec IncCanadaFacilities and Construction Services
58HP IncUnited StatesComputer Peripherals and Systems
59Commerzbank AGGermanyBanks
60Sun Life Financial IncCanadaInsurance
61ABB LtdSwitzerlandIndustrial Conglomerates
62Alphabet IncUnited StatesInternet and Data Services
63CapitaLand LimitedSingaporeReal Estate Investment and Services
64Pearson PLCUnited
Personal Professional Services
65BT Group PLCUnited
Wireless and Wireline
Telecommunications Services
66Metso OyjFinlandMachinery Manufacturing
67Comerica IncorporatedUnited StatesBanks
68Takeda Pharmaceutical Co LtdJapanBiopharmaceuticals
69Assicurazioni Generali SpAItalyInsurance
70Acciona SASpainFacilities and Construction Services
71Novo Nordisk A/SDenmarkBiopharmaceuticals
72Konica Minolta IncJapanComputer Peripherals and Systems
73Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken ABSwedenBanks
74Tesla IncUnited StatesConsumer Vehicles and Parts
75Westpac Banking CorpAustraliaBanks
76UCB SABelgiumBiopharmaceuticals
77Workday IncUnited StatesSoftware
78Merck & Co IncUnited StatesBiopharmaceuticals
79GlaxoSmithKline PLCUnited
80Samsung SDI Co LtdSouth KoreaElectrical Equipment and Power Systems
81Intel CorporationUnited StatesSemiconductor Manufacturing
82Analog Devices IncUnited StatesSemiconductor Manufacturing
83IGM Financial IncCanadaInvestment Services
84Canadian Solar IncCanadaElectrical Equipment and Power Systems
85BYD Co LtdChinaConsumer Vehicles and Parts
86Kao CorporationJapanPersonal Care and Cleaning Products
87BASF SEGermanySpecialty and Performance Chemicals
88Cogeco Communications IncCanadaWireless and Wireline
Telecommunications Services
89Panasonic CorporationJapanComputer Hardware
90Vitasoy International Holdings LtdHong KongFood and Beverage Production
91Teck Resources LimitedCanadaMetal Ore Mining
92Toyota Motor CorporationJapanConsumer Vehicles and Parts
93Campbell Soup CompanyUnited StatesFood and Beverage Production
94Industria de Diseño Textil SASpainApparel and Accessories Retail
95Singapore Telecommunications LimitedSingaporeWireless and Wireline
Telecommunications Services
96Telus CorporationCanadaWireless and Wireline
Telecommunications Services
97Lenovo Group LtdChinaComputer Peripherals and Systems
98L’Oréal SAFrancePersonal Care and Cleaning Products
99Kesko CorporationFinlandFood and Beverage Retail
100Amundi SAFranceInvestment Services

SOURCE Corporate Knights Inc.

Feature photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash.