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M&S, Unilever and London Stock Exchange among world’s most sustainable companies



The 2015 Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies in the World Index includes UK based companies Marks & Spencer, Unilever and London Stock Exchange. In total, 11 British companies make the list, up from eight last year.

Household product company Reckitt Benckiser is the highest placed UK company at number seven, with utility firm Centrica only just behind, haven risen from 26th place over the last 12 months. Other UK based companies making the list are BT, Sky, Pearson, BG, British Land and Electrocomponents.

The 2015 index is the 11th annual list from Corporate Knights. The companies involved are the top sustainability performers in their respective sectors and are whittled down from a list of 4,609 listed companies with a market capitalisation greater than $2 billion (£1.3bn). The rankings are determined by 12 sustainability indicators, including amount of revenue companies generate per unit of energy consumed and the ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay.

“The Global 100 represent the corporate trailblazers who are forging new ways to make more with less, while raising the bar on good governance and social responsibility,” said Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights.

The organisation highlighted executive bonuses tied to sustainability targets as one of the “most encouraging findings”. Of the 100 firms making the list, 85 will provide a monetary bonus to executives that achieved sustainability targets, for example, Philips Electronics link their executives’ bonuses to achieving carbon emission reductions.

Critics of bonus schemes and excessive pay have stated the many remuneration packages encourage short-term thinking, rather than considering sustainability and long-term goals. Tying bonuses to sustainability targets is one way to overcome this barrier.

US Biotechnology company Biogen was ranked at the most sustainable company in the Index and performed in the top quartile against it peers on energy consumption, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, tax paid, board diversity and worker safety.

Whilst the US had the greatest number of firms on the list at 20, Corporate Knights noted that other countries are making sustainable strides, including France and Singapore. The UK has the fourth highest number of companies making the list, falling behind the US, Canada and France.

Photo: Victor1558 via Flickr 

Further reading:

Business leaders embracing sustainability but Europe lagging behind

Unep: corporates and investors should join forces for sustainable business

Sustainable business is simply ‘doing business in a better way’

Nothing ‘soft and fluffy’ about sustainable business

Breakdown of business ethics destroying shareholder value, says Ecclesiastical