Originally published on Green Living Ideas.
By Andrea Bertoli
Who are the companies that are changing their business model for a better world?
Sometimes it’s the smaller companies you’ve never heard of that slowly shift the paradigm of business as usual, while other times it’s large multinational corporations changing how business is done at the top.
But it’s difficult to find a definitive rating. Some surveys will look at only environmental criteria, while others will take components like social justice, workers rights, and financial solvency into consideration. The most reputable list we’ve found is from B Corporation, which has the most recent and most comprehensive look at the true sustainability of a business.
B Corporations are known as benefit corporations, businesses and brands that work for the triple bottom line: benefiting people, planet AND making a profit. Each year B Corporation rates thousands of companies. Their model: “Any company can compete to be not just best in the world, but best for the world.”
The Most Sustainable Companies in the World this Year
Here’s what the B Corp folks say about their list this year:
2015 Best For the World Honorees for Overall Impact include Echale a Tu Casa, a social housing production company in Mexico; Oliberté, a Canadian premium leather goods company that sustainably sources its materials from and manufactures in Africa to create pathways out of poverty; and California’s Beneficial State Bank, an innovative, triple-bottom line, community development financial institution. Best for the World companies come from 49 different industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and finance. 37% of honorees are based outside the US, including companies operating in emerging markets like Afghanistan, Brazil, and Ethiopia.
Click here to see a list of the 2015 Best for the World list of winners. Winners include a range of renewable energy companies, accessories and clothing, banking, investments, services, retail, agriculture and design.
There also ratings for companies in Best for Community, Best for Environment and Best for Workers. There are many overlaps with the main list, but each category offers cool insight into which companies are making the best strides towards better business in all aspects. Each category honoree is recognized for a score in the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations, a worthy distinction indeed.
The Most Sustainable Companies in the World in 2014?
The B Corp list of the most sustainable businesses of 2014 includes many of the companies that were honorees in the 2015 list. You can view both the 2014 and 2013 lists on the B Corp site.
Here are some of the other ratings out there. Newsweek, in partnership with Corporate Knights, released a report with the top 10 green companies in the world and the top 10 green companies in the United States. Not one of the companies on the Newsweek list is present on the B Corp list.
Fortune also published a list the most green companies. Their list of 50 Best Global Green Brands for 2014 included nominees from Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report, “which ranks the world’s 100 most valuable brands. The 50 companies on Best Global Green Brands list were ranked in two ways: on the strength of their sustainability initiatives and on how the public perceives those efforts.” This list is dominated by automobile companies (Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan are ranked 1-4, and VW, Chevrolet, Kia and Mercedes are on the list too). This ranking system differs pretty significantly from all other lists, as it was derived from the ‘most valuable brands,’ so it automatically eliminates brands that are new or small. It also includes Shell oil, which should not be considered sustainable or green in any list. As a company that bases the business model on an inherently unsustainable product, it should discredit the entire report.
Other ways to rank? In 2006, Inc. Magazine released a list of the Green 50– entrepreneurs and companies that are making a difference in their respective industries. Though not ranked and not focused on any specific topic, it gives some cool insight into cutting-edge green businesses.
Climate Counts is another organization that rates companies periodically (most recent study is 2013), but this only rates companies on their greenhouse gas emissions, not on other factors. So for example, companies like Johnson & Johnson and L’Oreal, which create products that are potentially toxic and made from fossil fuel-derived ingredients, are just not sustainable according to metrics that we would choose. It’s great to acknowledge companies that are reducing their climate impact through renewables, reduction of emissions, or offsets, but it’s equally important to offer products that are safe for the body and the environment. See which company scored the highest in each category with this flipbook, and make your own conclusion about which type of companies we consider sustainable. So we’re sticking with the B Corp list!
Reprinted with permission.