Bringing the business case for sustainability to the forefront, Fortune has released its third annual Change the World list, which highlights companies who are having a positive social or environmental impact on the world through their core business strategy.
The fifty selected companies, which span a variety of industries, come from all across the globe and have annual revenues of at least $1 billion. In partnership with FSG and Shared Value Initiative, Fortune ranks companies across three main criteria:
- Measurable Social Impact: The reach, nature and durability of a company’s impact on one or more societal problems, such as income inequality, health outcomes and climate change.
- Business Results: The benefit the socially impactful work brings to the company. Profitability and contribution to shareholder value outweigh benefits to the company’s reputation.
- Degree of Innovation: How innovative the company’s effort is relative to that of others in its industry and whether other companies have followed its example.
Rounding out the top five spots are Dutch life science company DSM — which is tackling climate change with its Project “Clean Cow” — Apple, which serves as a source of job creation and whose products facilitate important tools for education and research; Novartis, which introduced an innovative, value-based drug-pricing structure; and LeapFrog Investments, which launched a $135 million social-impact investing fund to help create financial safety nets in emerging markets in Asia and Africa.
A number of Sustainable Brands members — Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Nestlé, Unilever and IBM — also appear on the Change the World list.
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Johnson & Johnson (#9) made the list for its mMitra program in India. Founded in partnership with nonprofit group ARMMAN, mMitra is a free service that sends pregnant women and new mothers voice messages with health updates and helpful tips about raising children, including information about proper nutrition and preventative care. Over 700,000 women have participated in the program since its launch in 2014.
Nestlé (#14) received credit for its move to remove added sugars from across the majority of its product portfolio and plans to cut a further five percent by 2020. The company has also invested significant into R&D to change the structure of sugar, which would allow Nestlé to reduce the amount of sugar it uses in certain products by up to 40 percent.
Unilever landed at 21 for its bold Sustainable Living Plan, which has helped the company reduce its environmental impacts while boosting revenue, profit and employee engagement. Meanwhile, IBM (#35) was recognized for its efforts to close the STEM skills gap: In 2011 the company launched Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech) in Brooklyn, which allows students to graduate with both their high school diplomas and their associate degrees in STEM. The success of the program has spurred the launch of 70 P-Tech schools — with over 300 corporate partners — across the US, Australia and Morocco.
The list also recognized six “Rising Stars” with less than $1 billion in annual revenue, whose impact “far exceeds their size”:
- Blackbaud: A US-based software company whose software products is designed to manage large philanthropic and charitable projects. Blackbaud’s products played a key role in powering the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
- Medentech: Specializing in the fabrication and distribution of Aquatabs tablets for treating drinking water, Medentech is helping improve access to safe drinking water and reducing surface contamination. Aquatabs are used in over 20 countries and by major aid agencies to kill the microorganisms that cause cholera, typhoid and dysentery in 30 minutes.
- Tableau: Partnering with international health organization PATH, Seattle-based software company Tableau has developed a disease surveillance system that has helped reduce malaria infections in Zambia by 93 percent since 2014.
- View: Using the electrochromisms process, View has created a dynamic glass that reduces heat and glare. The glass allows reductions in electricity consumption by up to 20 percent and has been proven to improve productivity.
- HackerOne: Used by the likes for General Motors and Starbucks, San Francisco-based startup HackerOne’s “bug bounty” programs allow companies to identify software vulnerabilities before they become problematic.
- Peat: Berlin’s Peat has created a smartphone app that utilizes a phone’s camera to detect more than 180 plant pests, diseases and nutrition deficiencies automatically. The app also provides users with detailed descriptions of possible control solutions. Plantix has become a valuable crop management tool in areas of India, where approximately 30 percent of harvests are lost to disease and pests.