A dozen Canadian companies are on this year's list of the 100 most sustainable companies in the world.
The annual Global 100 list, which ranks big firms based on their environmental and corporate governance performance, is led by a U.S. biotechnology firm, Biogen Idec. Second is Allergan Inc., the California pharmaceuticals company that recently spurned a take-over attempt from Montreal-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.
The top Canadian company is Tim Hortons Inc., which finished at number 11. It was followed by Teck Resources Ltd. at number 29 and Telus Corp. at 37, Bombardier Inc. at 57, and eight others.
The full list, compiled by Toronto-based media and research company Corporate Knights, was released Wednesday at the World Financial Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It ranks major corporations on a wide range of factors, including relative energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, waste production, CEO-to-worker pay ratios, and board and management diversity.
The United States had the highest number of companies on the list, with 20. Canada was tied with France and Britain with 12 each.
Some of the Canadian companies on the list – such as Teck, Enbridge Inc., Encana Corp. and Suncor Energy Inc. – work in the resource extraction business, which is not usually given high marks for sustainability. But Corporate Knights chief executive officer Toby Heaps said these firms do particularly well in the governance measures, and this pulls them up the list.
"Where they are not excelling on resource productivity, they make up ground on social indicators like safety, employee turnover and the governance indicators including diversity on the board and executive management," he said.
One area where Canadian companies excel, Mr. Heaps said, is in linking top executive pay to corporate sustainability targets. Every one of the 12 Canadian firms on the list makes a link of this sort, and got points for it. For the entire list of 100 companies, 85 per cent of firms had this link, a big jump from 68 per cent the previous year.
"This is a huge trend and a great one," Mr. Heaps said. "People tend to do what they get paid to do, and it is a very powerful motivator."
To compile the list, Corporate Knights starts with more than 4,600 global companies with market capitalization of more than $2-billion (U.S.), then cuts this down to a short list of about 500 firms that have sufficient disclosure of the key metrics. Companies are compared with others in the same industry, rather than across the whole universe. Weapons makers and tobacco companies do not qualify.
Corporate Knights also calculates the investment performance of the Global 100 list, and compares it with the MSCI All Country World Index. Since the list was first compiled in 2005, the Global 100 has generated a total return of 90.8 per cent, compared with 97 per cent for the MSCI ASW index. This is the first time the Global 100 has fallen behind, and Mr. Heaps said it was mainly a result of the rising U.S. dollar, since the bulk of the companies on the list trade in non-U.S. currencies.
THE TOP 10
1. Biogen Idec (U.S.), biotechnology
2. Allergan (U.S.), pharmaceuticals
3. Adidas (Germany), apparel
4. Keppel Land (Singapore), real estate
5. Kesko (Finland), retailing
6. BMW (Germany), automotive
7. Reckitt Benckiser Group (Britain), household products
8. Centrica (Britain), utilities
9. Schneider Electric (France), electrical
10. Danske Bank (Denmark), banks
11. Tim Hortons, restaurants
29. Teck Resources, mining
37. Telus, telecommunications
57. Bombardier, aerospace
64. Enbridge, oil & gas
67. Sun Life Financial, insurance
76. Toronto-Dominion Bank, banks
85. Celestica, electronics
86. Bank of Montreal, banks
90. Encana, oil & gas
93. Suncor Energy, oil & gas
98. Intact Financial, insurance