Agilent Technologies is Most Sustainable Health Care Company, Survey Shows

Agilent_Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, California-based Agilent Technologies, a leader in diagnostics and applied chemical markets, is ranked as one of Barron’s most sustainable companies. Agilent is one of seven health care companies to make the fourth annual list of 100 companies compiled by the publication.

For the 2021 ranking, Agilent came in second place, behind consumer electronics giant Best Buy. In 2020, Agilent held the top spot on the most sustainable list. 2021 marks the third year in a row Agilent has been ranked in the top three “Most Sustainable Companies in America” by Barron's.

“We’re very pleased to again be named one of America’s Most Sustainable Companies,” Neil Rees, Agilent vice president of Workplace Services said in a statement. “We have been the leader in our industry all four years the Barron’s list has been published and we’re very proud of our record. Sustainability has long been a key priority at Agilent.”

The other health care companies included in Barron’s list are Merck, which ranked 50th; Edwards Life Sciences, which holds the 54th position; West Pharmaceuticals, which came in at number 57; Amicus Therapeutics, which ranked 77th; Agios Pharmaceuticals, which holds the 88th position; and Amgen, at number 100. Amgen, Merck, Agios and Amicus were not included in the 2020 lists. Last year, West Pharmaceuticals was ranked 54th and Edwards held the 93rd position.

The stability of a company is a key criteria for job seekers, which a recent BioSpace survey confirmed. One of the questions posed in the BioSpace research sought answers to how job seekers feel about looking for work during a global pandemic. The top concern raised by 37% of those polled was a concern about company stability.

The top 100 list, compiled by Calvert Research & Management, ranked companies by how they performed for five key constituencies: shareholders, employees, customers, community and the planet, Barron’s said.

The idea of sustainability has multiple meanings. For the Barron’s ranking, it includes a number of different metrics, including environmental, social and corporate governance, which measures “how a company’s managers make decisions and plan for the future in areas beyond profitability.” Barron’s noted that its list looks beyond a company’s return for shareholders and focuses on stakeholders, looking at impact beyond profit statements. Stakeholders in a company include employees, customers, the community in which they operate and the environment.

As Barron’s said, the rankings include efforts from these companies to “mitigate their impact on the environment, as well as bolstering employee welfare, community health, and customer satisfaction.”

For Agilent, one of the key factors it continues to score so high on the Barron’s list was its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not so much in the manner of diagnostics or how it used 3-D technology to make face shields, protective masks and hand sanitizer for health care workers, but in how it treated its own employees during a time of uncertainty. Agilent guaranteed jobs and protected base pay during the pandemic, the publication said. Additionally, Agilent increased its use of solar energy in 2020.

Mike McMullen, Agilent’s chief executive officer, said a focus on sustainability is important to the company and is simply good business. In addition to an increased use of solar power, Agilent also provided instruments that use less power and chemical solvents, and shrinking packaging, Barron’s said. As a result of that focus, during 2020, Agilent’s market share increased, as did its profitability.

“A number of our largest customers want to hear directly about what we’re doing in sustainability and asking us to help them,” McMullen told Barron’s.

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