As political and business leaders gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, a roster of the most sustainable companies is also enjoying a moment in the spotlight.
The list, the Global 100, ranks large corporations across the globe on their performance reducing carbon and waste, their gender diversity among leadership, revenues derived from clean products, and overall sustainability.
In its 15th year, the ranking is compiled by a Canada-based sustainability-focused financial information company and magazine, Corporate Knights, beginning with a list of about 7,500 companies, all of which generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Ranking number one this year on the Global 100 is Chr. Hansen Holding, a Danish bioscience firm that derives over 80% of its revenue developing natural solutions for preserving foods like yogurt and milk, protecting crops using natural bacteria instead of pesticides, and alternatives to antibiotics for animals.
Corporate Knights cofounder and president Toby Heaps told Forbes that Chr. Hansen’s first-place standing was a bit of a surprise and that the company, founded in 1874, is a relative unknown to many. “It’s not a consumer-facing company,” he says.
But it probably impacts a lot of the calories of hundreds of millions of people every day and makes the food that they’re consuming safer.
Nearly 30% of the Danish billion-dollar-business’ board is made up of women, according to the Corporate Knights study, and its CEO salaries are about 24 times those of an average worker with the firm—a relatively low ratio for the ranking.
In second place on the roster is Kering SA, a French firm better known for the consumer-facing brands it owns: fashion houses Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, among others.
The brand has shown it takes sustainability seriously by sourcing more than 40% of its products from certified sustainable sources, says Heaps, and is always scanning for ways to improve that percentage.