Microsoft has taken the top spot on the annual “Just 100” list of the most responsible U.S. companies, compiled by Forbes and the nonprofit Just Capital, which ranked the companies based on values that citizens want to see in corporate America.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant scored highly in a range of categories, notably:
- Minimizing environmental impact (#1)
- Paying workers fairly (#2)
- Treating customers well (#5)
- Committing to ethical and diverse leadership (#5)
Microsoft unseated last year’s No. 1 pick, Intel, which landed in second place for 2018. Google’s parent company Alphabet took third. Other Seattle-area companies to make the list were Amazon (#30), Zillow (#69) and Boeing (#72).
Forbes and Just Capital looked at 890 publicly traded U.S. companies for the ranking.
Social responsibility appeared to help, not hurt, the financial performance of most firms. Those that made the list reported 5 percent higher return-on-equity than the average of Russell 1000 companies.
Compared to peers, companies on the list paid their typical worker 26 percent more, had four times as many female directors and recycled eight times more waste.
“People are finally coming around to saying, ‘It’s not just the surplus you’ve created for yourself. What’s the state of the world around you?’” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Forbes in an interview that accompanied the rankings. “That’s where I feel like we’re at our best.”
While Microsoft earned top marks under the ranking’s methodology, it has struggled publicly with diversity in recent years. The company has been accused of gender discrimination in an ongoing lawsuit brought by female employees in 2015. Women comprise 27 percent of Microsoft’s workforce and African Americans 4 percent, according to the company.
Microsoft’s chief diversity officer told GeekWire in November that, when it comes to employing more women and minorities in leadership, “we are closer to the beginning of this journey than the end.”
“Aligning corporate behavior with the priorities of the American people is good for workers and good for business,” said Just Capital CEO Martin Whittaker in a statement. Just Capital was started by billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones.