Since 2018, Barron’s has collaborated with Calvert Research & Management to publish an annual list of the 100 Most Sustainable Companies. Calvert’s process begins by taking the 1,000 largest publicly traded U.S. companies and then ranking them based on how they perform regarding shareholders, employees, customers, community, and the planet. Sample data points used in Calvert’s evaluation process include workplace diversity and greenhouse-gas emissions. According to Calvert, the top five most sustainable U.S. companies are:

  1. Best Buy (BBY)
  2. Agilent Technologies (A)
  3. Ecolab (ECL)
  4. Autodesk (ADSK)
  5. Voya Financial (VOYA)

Best Buy tops this year’s list because it made the following proactive and ESG-friendly moves:

  • Halted in-store operations for six weeks and utilized curbside pick-up and delivery methods instead.
  • Increased employee compensation early on during the pandemic and instituted a $15/hour minimum wage.
  • Permitted paid sick leave.
  • Executives sacrificed a 20% pay cut and used these savings to create an emergency fund for furloughed workers.
  • Reinstated 50% of furloughed employees by September 2020.

Agilent came in second place by acting in the following pro-ESG manner:

  • Guaranteed jobs and safeguarded employees’ salaries.
  • Utilized 3-D printers to make face shields for local healthcare providers.
  • Purchased a separate company with its solar farm to enhance clean energy usage.

Overall, U.S. companies injected more than $1 trillion into the economy in 2020 via cash gifts, free masks, loan forbearance, etc. Impressively, corporate America’s contribution to the economy was on par with the federal government’s stimulus program.