Rankings Management

Ranking portrait: Corporate Knights – Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World

June 15, 20
Sustainability rankings are becoming increasingly important for investors. Corporate Knights is one of only two global rankings whose results are freely available.

Corporate Knights is a company that publishes a ranking of the most sustainable companies in the world. The company's vision is "Clean Capitalism," which is a form of capitalism that is aware of the consequences of corporate decisions. Sustainability, also known as ESG (Environment, Social, Governance), has become a vital investment criterion for investors. Many rating agencies now measure the sustainability performance of companies using objective indicators. Still, these ratings are usually only accessible to those who pay for them, which makes them less visible to the public. The Corporate Knights Global 100 ranking is an exception and is regularly covered in business magazines like Forbes and by news agencies. Additionally, the scores are available to investors through the Bloomberg Terminal and Reuters.

Pressure on companies to act
Corporate Knights is a Canadian independent media company that publishes a magazine focused on sustainability in business. The magazine is published four times yearly to complement the Washington Post, The Globe, and Mail. Corporate Knights is also known for their annual ranking of "Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World", announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The ranking is based on 21 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in eight clusters, including resource management, financial KPIs, and indicators related to employee management. Corporate Knights aims to create global attention and transparency with their ranking and work with productivity indicators, such as comparing a company's CO2 emissions to its revenue, to measure its effective use of resources. The goal of Corporate Knights is to combine economic growth with sustainability.
The Global 100 ranking of the world's most sustainable companies, created by Corporate Knights, is heavily weighted by a metric called Clean Revenue, which accounts for 50% of the overall ranking. Clean Revenue refers to the revenue generated by a company from the sale of goods and services that have ecological or social benefits. However, the definition of Clean Revenue can be challenging for specific industries, and the ranking has been criticised for its complexity and lack of transparency. For example, pharmaceutical companies are asked to disclose revenue data for particular disease categories and countries, which may need to be more relevant or desirable for companies to disclose. GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, dropped from 5th place in 2019 to 79th place in the ranking, likely due to its lack of compliance with the ranking's information requirements. Corporate Knights announced in 2018 that they planned to develop a calculation method for Clean Revenue for all industry sectors. However, this also indicates that the development of the methodology still needs to be completed.
Corporate Knights is a company that creates rankings of publicly traded companies with revenues over $1 billion based on their sustainability performance. Companies are screened for transparency, ethical practices, financial stability, and sanctions. Only companies with at least 25% Clean Revenue or listed in previous years are considered for the ranking. The final list of the Global 100 is compiled by evaluating all indicators for top performers in each sector. Corporate Knights uses publicly available information and verify data with the companies. The ranking is easily integrated into investment and financing decisions, making it relevant and long-lasting. Corporate Knights founder Heaps is a Sustainability Accounting Standards Advisory Board (SASB) member. Unlike other sustainability ratings that have disappeared, Corporate Knights has remained present due to its clear agenda and relevance for investors. Only specialised rankings such as ATMI (Access to Medicine) have maintained a similar presence.


Read the complete article from the magazine "Kommunikationsmanager" (German edition):​  Ranking portrait: Corporate Knights 2020


Anita Meyer-Eppler
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Tarik Wenzel
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