This morning, Fortune releases its second annual Change the World list, highlighting 50 companies addressing global social problems as part of their core business strategy. Take some time to read through the list here; you will be inspired by what you find.
We started this list last year as a counter to the rising skepticism against business. Capitalism is clearly under attack these days, for a variety of reasons I discuss in my editor’s note here. Yet a growing number of businesses, like those on this list, are making intentional efforts to prove the profit motive can be harnessed to alleviate some of the world’s most persistent social ills. Integrating societal needs into corporate strategy “has moved into the mainstream and is growing exponentially around the world,” write Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, who are pioneers of the “shared value” movement and are Fortune’s partners in compiling this list. “Companies are moving beyond often fuzzy notions like sustainability and corporate citizenship to making meaningful social impact central to how they compete.”
The best companies always have put purpose at the center of their business strategies. But with business under attack, their numbers are growing. Also this morning, we are also releasing a new series of videos, done in conjunction with the Aspen Institute, in which CEOs talk with Susie Gharib about their efforts to lead with purpose. You can find the videos here, and they reflect the passion of a new generation of business leaders. “Fundamentally, a business that isn’t doing good for the world will not be successful over the long run,” says Blue Apron’s Matt Salzberg, who is helping farmers grow the ingredients he needs for his meal kits without using pesticides.
None of this is to suggest that capitalism doesn’t have excesses, or that companies don’t make mistakes, or that the needs of people don’t sometimes get trampled in pursuit of profit. But capitalism remains the world’s best hope for creating shared prosperity. And business, at its best, is a powerful tool for taking on the most intractable of problems. Fortune’s hope is that by highlighting the best, we raise the standard for all.