By Ross Kohan
August 26, 2016

What is the purpose of business? The answer to that question has changed. For decades, most business leaders would say their corporate mission was to maximize profits for shareholders and owners. That was the primary success metric for businesses across the country. Today, the answer most commonly is that the ultimate purpose of a corporation is to serve society and to make the world a better place.

Just about everyone from Washington to Corporate America to Main Street is talking about Leading with Purpose. But why now? What changed? Why is “purpose” getting so much attention now?

Fortune’s Susie Gharib gets some answers in a series of CEO interviews she conducted in partnership with The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program (

In this segment three CEOs talk about why leading with purpose has taken on new importance: William Cobb of H&R Block, Roger Ferguson of TIAA; and Lynn Good of Duke Energy. It is fair to say they all shared this view expressed by Lynn Good: “I don’t know that any business can sit on the sidelines. You have to engage, because that’s the expectation if you’re going to move your company forward.”


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