Big Tech had a tough year, laying off tens of thousands of workers since January. But the world’s biggest tech companies are also the ones doing best for investors, employees, and the planet. Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet (the company that owns Google) and Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) were the top four companies in new statistical ranking of 750 of the world’s best companies by Statista and TIME, which are based on a formula of revenue growth, employee-satisfaction surveys, and rigorous environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG, or sustainability) data.
Tech companies performed well, alongside IT and consulting firm Accenture and financial-services company American Express, in part because their carbon emissions are so much lower than other types of companies with significant physical footprints like airlines, hotels, or big manufacturers. But they also ranked well because their employees are largely happy—the top four got the highest marks in employee rankings—and because they’ve posted such big financial gains over the last three years while still committing to social governance principles like lowering their emissions and appointing more women to their boards.
Microsoft, for example, the top company in the global rankings, made $72 billion in its most recent fiscal year, a 63% increase from 2020, while also reducing overall emissions by 0.5%. In its most recent annual report, it also said that both racial and ethnic minority and women employees in the U.S. earned more, on average, than their counterparts who are men. “The way I think about our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview with TIME in May 2023.
Accenture, based in Dublin, had the highest ESG ranking of any company on the list. The company has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2025, and has significantly reduced its emissions since 2019. Its CEO, Julie Sweet, is female, as are half of the members of its board of directors. “This is not a walk in the park,” she told TIME in 2020, about advancing gender diversity. Accenture’s employees are now 47% women, it said in its most recent annual report, and it intends to achieve gender parity by 2025.
The rankings show just who dominates the world economic order, with fast-moving tech and business-services companies unseating the manufacturers and consumer-goods companies that once drove the global economy. The world’s best companies of 2023 can make things, like their forefathers did, while their employees, shareholders, and the planet profit, too. —Alana Semuels
Companies featured on this list can inquire about licensing opportunities here.