Sustain Labs has partnered with BW Businessworld, a leading business magazine in India to present an annual ranking of India’s most sustainable companies. The special issue publishes case studies on the best practices in sustainability in corporate India, analyses of trends by sector and insights from the leadership teams of the top performing companies. For companies seeking an in-depth analysis of their performance, sectoral insights and recommendations from the global panel of experts at Sustain Labs, the partnership also publishes the customised "Sustainability Assessment Cube Reports". 

The Sustain Labs and BW Businessworld partnership is a great believer in the strength and promise that corporate India holds. All corporations provide livelihood to employees. By offering products and services to clients, they usually add value to people’s lives. Further, if companies are mindful of and ensure the well-being of their employees, customers, local communities, the environment, and ecosystem then they immensely contribute to the betterment of society and our world. Sustain Labs and BW Businessworld’s India’s most sustainable companies therefore represents this list of companies who are creating value, but are doing so responsibly.


Combining years of research and industrial experience, Sustain Labs Paris has identified six sides to the SLP sustainability cube:

Resource efficiency 

Social Entrepreneurship 

Financial Management 

Employee Well-being

Clean Revenue

Inclusive Supply Chain


Diving deeper into these sides, we also drew 31 aspects and their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that would serve us to examine, assess and rank all companies. Each KPI carries 10 points, each with equal weightage.

The 31 Aspects in the SLP sustainability cube check for performances related to waste thrice, fatalities and grave incidents detrimental to employee well-being four times, diversity thrice, ethics and legal compliances twice such that it naturally embeds more weightage to these specific issues within the framework. If there is no information available for a KPI then a penalty score of -25 is attributed to the specific KPI. If the KPI is not applicable to a specific sector then the specific KPI is marked as ‘not applicable’ for all companies within that sector.


The Formula

Score = Sum of total points

                  Total of applicable KPIs


Energy Productivity

Economic output that is derived from each unit of energy consumed

Water Productivity

Economic output that is derived from each unit of water consumed

Waste Productivity

Economic gain per kilo of waste

Human Resource 


Economic gain versus the number, cost, hours of work of employees


Innovations and R&D by the company across all aspects

Life Cycle Pollution

Impact on air, water, land of the production and use of products or services of the company

Number of Lives Positively Impacted as a Result of Business

Number of customers for products that benefit society, number of employees, positive secondary impact of company product/service on people

Number of Lives Negatively Impacted as a Result of Business

Human rights violations by company, number of customers for products that harm society, number of employees harmed during work, harmful secondary impact of company product/service on people

Philanthropic Activity

Number of lives positively impacted via CSR spend of company and philanthropy

Financial Health

Analysis of revenues, expenses, debt ratio, profitability ratio, in the light of business activity and sector specific events in the FY

CEO- Average Worker Pay Ratio

Ratio of CEO salary to average worker salary


Quality of asset allocation, risk management, FX hedges

Climate Resilience

Assessment of company’s climate risk identification, strategy, and implementation


Quality of transparency via internal governance structures, company board

of directors, audited reports, stakeholder engagement


Assessment of fair procurement processes

Lost- Time Injury Rate

The number of lost time injuries occurring in a workplace per 1 million

hours worked. Lost time injuries include

all on-the-job injuries that require a person to stay away from work more

than 24 hours, or which result in death, or a disability


Number of deaths that occurred at work

Employee Turnover Rate

Employee turnover rate

Gender Parity in Leadership

Number of women and men on board of directors and top 2 levels of management heirarchy

Wage Discrepancy per Gender

Pivoting on the principle of equal pay for equal work, assessment of average wages of women and average wages of men for the same level in the organisational  hierarchy 

Wage Discrepancy per Age

Pivoting on the principle of equal pay for equal work, assessment of average wages of youngest employee in the company and average wages of oldest employee in the company for the same level in the organisational  hierarchy 

Employee Satisfaction

Degree of employee satisfaction at the workplace

HR Policies like Insurance and Maternity

Assessment of HR policies and HR policy implementation

Diversity at Workplace

Assessment of existence of 

diversity across gender, age, abilities, differently

abled persons, in the light of sector constraints 

Waste to Wealth Practices

Assessment of waste to wealth practices such as circularity, reuse, repurpose

Shared Platforms

Assessment of optimisation of resources by using shared platforms wherever possible


Impact on business of litigations at court


Percentage of legal compliances fulfilled


Assessment of quality by checks for and reduction of pollution by vendors, distributors and other members of the supply chain

Human Rights

Assessment of quality by checking for and mitigation of human rights violations amongst vendors, distributors and other members of the supply chain


Assessment of integration and effective feedback mechanisms from and to

vendors, distributors and other members of the supply chain


The top 200 companies ranked according to these KPIs are listed below.


Rank                            Company                                                    Sustainability Score

1                                           Wipro                                                                        6.448

2                                           Maruti Suzuki                                                        6.371

3                                           Tata Consultancy Services                                6.103

4                                           Godrej Consumer Products Ltd.                    6.032

5                                           Tech Mahindra                                                      6.000

6                                           Marico                                                                       5.968

7                                           Piramal                                                                      5.935

8                                           Hindustan Unilever                                             5.823

9                                           HCL                                                                            5.810

10                                        Tata Chemicals                                                      5.355

11                                        Godrej Industries                                                  6.000

12                                         ICICI                                                                         5.750

13                                         Tata Power                                                             5.871

14                                         Infosys                                                                       5.517

15                                         Tata Motors                                                           5.452

16                                         GAIL                                                                         5.435

17                                         Ultratech Cement                                                5.387

18                                         Cipla                                                                          6.194

19                                         Eicher                                                                        5.242

20                                         Aditya Birla Fashion Retail                              5.226


The practice of generating ‘clean revenue’ from products and services that are not harmful to people and the environment, through waste to wealth practices, as well as the use of shared platforms, is new but catching on in India. 

An example of this is the joint venture CERO established in FY 2020 between Mahindra Accelo (a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra) and MSTC. The JV recycles vehicles as well as facilitates the clean and efficient disposal of vehicles. 

Maruti Suzuki too has floated a separate company called Maruti Suzuki Toyotsu India Pvt Ltd (MSTI) with the Toyota Tsusho Group to set up a vehicle dismantling and recycling facility in India with an initial capacity of scrapping 24,000 vehicles per annum. 

JLR’s latest project, REALITY, builds on long standing work to find ways to recover aluminium from end-of-life vehicles to build next-gen models. REALITY aims to recover post-consumer aluminum from sources, including end-of-life vehicles, to reform it into a new high-grade aluminium to create new vehicles. With this project, Jaguar Land Rover expects to reduce the CO2 impact of production while reducing the amount of virgin aluminium required to produce vehicles.


In India a few companies such as Godrej Consumer Products, Tech Mahindra, Infosys, TCS, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra are committed to achieve carbon neutrality. Some such as TCS have already met their targets of halving their specific carbon footprint by 2020. Tata Power’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 led it to announce its decision in 2019 to completely phase out its thermal power business by moving into renewable sources of energy by 2050. 

A handful of companies such as Ultratech Cement, Tata Chemicals, TCS, have established an internal carbon price that financially incentivises business groups within the company to decrease their carbon footprint while using a markets based mechanism to penalise those business groups who do not. 

While achieving ‘zero landfill’ must certainly be the first step towards environmental responsibility, it is as yet aspirational for Indian companies.

Not only maintaining a balanced headcount, corporate India needs to have a stronger intent and greater implementation prowess to offer equal access to leadership, equal wages for equal work, matching roles to aspirations by breaking stereotypes, and have an unbiased approach to maternity and parenthood, for all.

With the exception of self-made women Managing Directors such as Renu Sud Karnad of HDFC Ltd. and women who run their family owned businesses, there are nearly no women CEOs amongst India’s largest 200 companies. 

We found that companies’ apprehension towards women availing their 6 month maternity leave and their belief that mothers will be less efficient contributors to organisations, lead to hiring less women and lower retention of pregnant women and mothers. That said, there were some examples of strong and equitable human resource policies seen across sectors. 

As an exciting live role model for business model transformation, ITC has progressively increased its non-tobacco business towards a majority of non-tobacco products that are socially and environmentally responsible. 

In the last two decades, non-cigarette businesses at ITC have grown over 25-fold and presently constitute over 60% of net segment revenue. In aggregate, the non-cigarette businesses account for over 85% of ITC’s operating capital employed, about 90% of the employee base and over 90% of annual investments.

20.33% of listed Indian companies have reported losses for FY 2019-20. This pushes down their financial liability of contributing to Corporate Social Responsibility this year. Further, the data we gathered from CMIE showed that 43.8% companies have reported losses in Q1 of FY 2020-21 which corresponds to the period of the meteoric spread of the Coronavirus from 2280 cases on 1 April to 220546 cases on 30 June in India. 

In fact, as what might be a direct economic consequence of the pandemic, our analysis has showed that 19.65% of Indian companies who were profitable in Q4 2019-20 have now reported losses in Q1 2020-21. 

What this means is that companies’ CSR funds would shrink even further — at a time when the contribution of the private sector to society is needed the most. 

In view of this, we need to lean towards structuring more public private partnerships for corporate contributions to social good, rather than relying solely on CSR funds. When such partnerships are done well, they lead to more long term, stable, and inclusive solutions. How do we do so? 

Snapshots on the sector-wise performance of the 200 companies assessed in BW Businessworld India’s Most Sustainable Companies rankings. 

We feel that 2021 will be an important year for responsible business. As the economy continues to crush under the pandemic, there will be a necessity for more resource efficiency and waste to wealth practices. There will be greater need for working in partnership mode with civil society and government in a lean year of CSR. The pandemic would have also shown us the need to be prepared for natural disasters emerging of our changing climate. And several companies will undoubtedly roll up their sleeves and contribute to society for equitable distributing the vaccine as the government definitely would need help.

We welcome questions and requests for more information on your company’s sustainability performance by writing to

© Sustain Labs Paris 2021