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40 corporate sustainability leaders (plus, 3 lists considered)

40 corporate sustainability leaders (plus, 3 lists considered)

Posting in Energy

Three weighty corporate social responsibility rankings have been published this fall. What is surprising is how little duplication there is among the leaders.

Three major corporate social responsibility and green business lists have been published over the past several weeks. Rather than pointing separately to each one of them, I figured it would be most useful to summarize some of the findings in one uber-post and then mine these great research projects for future blog topic ideas.

I have to say that I'm surprised at how little duplication there is of the top companies on each of these very different lists. I guess it goes to show there is a lot to be learned across this still-nascent management discipline. I bolded the companies that were included on more than one of these three rankings and indexes.

The first list I'll mention is one of reputation. The Corporate Social Responsibility Index is a ranking that rates the public's perception of which companies they think are doing a good job of operational stewardship and activities that consider the planet. The list is compiled by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Reputation Institute. It surveyed 7,790 consumers in January 2011 about the companies rated on citizenship, governance and workplace issues. Here are the top 10 companies on the list:

  1. Publix Super Markets
  2. Google
  3. UPS
  4. Kellogg's
  5. Amazon.com
  6. Berkshire Hathaway
  7. FedEx
  8. Campbell Soup Co.
  9. Baxter International
  10. 3M

One somewhat negative thing to note. The top score of 80.59 by Publix was actually down from the top score last year, which was 82.67. The No. 1 company last year was Johnson & Johnson. There were actually only two companies that made the top 10 in both 2010 and 2011. They were Kellogg's and Google. (Remember, this is a consumer perception survey.)

Another list you should be sure to consult is the Newsweek magazine "Greenest Companies in America" ranking. The ranking considers the 500 biggest listed companies in America AND the 500 biggest international companies from the green point of view. The research was conducted by Trucost and Sustainalytics. The methodology is expansive, accounting for water consumption, waste management, greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource management, and overall reputation among sustainability professionals.

For the purpose of "my list," I am only counting the top 20 companies on the list. It probably won't shock you that a really large percentage of them are technology companies, which have been particularly fanatical about publicizing everything they are doing that could be considered a green business practice. They also have the added benefit of producing a product that could help other companies improve their sustainability management. Here are Newsweek's top 20 U.S. companies:

  1. IBM
  2. Hewlett-Packard
  3. Sprint Nextel
  4. Baxter
  5. Dell
  6. Johnson & Johnson
  7. Accenture
  8. Office Depot
  9. CA
  10. Nvidia
  11. Agilent Technologies
  12. Hartford Financial Services
  13. EMC
  14. Adobe Systems
  15. Intel
  16. Cognizant Technology
  17. Staples
  18. Motorola Solutions
  19. Best Buy
  20. Allergan

The final resource you should consult as a corporate sustainability professional is the new "Best Corporate Citizens" database from Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The research for this list is conducted by IW Financial, which focuses on providing advice to investors that care about the environment, social and governance issues. There are 324 separate data elements considered across seven different categories: climate change, employee relations, environment, financial, governance, human rights and philanthropy. Here are the top 10 companies from 10 different industries considered:

  • JP Morgan Chase (Financials/Insurance/Real Estate)
  • IBM (Information Technology)
  • E.I. DuPont de Nemours (Materials)
  • Mattel (Customer Items)
  • Starbucks (Media & Entertainment)
  • Accenture (Business Services)
  • Campbell Soup (Consumer Staples)
  • Pinnacle West Capital (Utilities)
  • Chevron (Energy)
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (Healthcare)

(Graphic by Gary Mcinnes; courtesy of Stock.xchng)

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure