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These 50 Companies Are Changing the World

September 7, 2017, 7:31 PM UTC

Fortune just published its 2017 Change the World list, which highlights the work of corporations making social benefit part of their core businesses. Now in its third year, here’s my working title for this group of companies: Definitive Proof That It’s Possible to Do Right by Your Shareholders, Your Employees, Your Customers, and the World at Large.

To introduce this year’s list, Fortune chief Clifton Leaf shares a conversation he had last August with Unilever CEO Paul Polman, in which Polman shared an eye-popping data point: Some 1.8 million people now apply to work at the consumer giant company every year, many of whom are under 40. Here’s more from Cliff’s intro:

“According to the data,” Polman reveals, “60% more or less—I’m rounding it—say it’s the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, and the bigger purpose that we have as a business.” The Sustainable Living Plan is the company’s blueprint for growing the business while reducing waste, water, and energy use, sourcing raw materials in a smarter way, helping local farmers, and striving for other earth-friendly goals. The wide-eyed applicants who are sending résumés by the trainload may not pine to sell packaged goods to the well-packaged masses—but Polman figures, “They say, ‘At the end of the day, I’m going to make a difference that is bigger than I could have done myself.’ ”

The full list and its methodology can be found here. Every entry is an education, so spend some time with it if you can.

Before squinting at JP Morgan Chase, which holds the top spot, consider its commitment to Detroit, a rust belt city reeling from years of disinvestment. A smart annual investment of $250 million into community-building initiatives and a dedicated team of advisers, has created some 1,700 new jobs and seeded 100 new businesses since 2014. It’s a model that can scale. (Don’t miss the short video on what the country’s biggest bank has been up to here.)

That’s the beauty of the list: The business case for visionary corporate impact is deeply intertwined with the business case for diversity. I’ll let Polman break it down. “It’s still difficult to explain it to your shareholders, obviously,” he told Fortune. “But ultimately the people that you employ—or the people you are able to attract—is actually the backbone of your success.”

On Point

Hurricane aid grows to $15 billion in advance of IrmaIt’s crunch time for Senate Republicans, who have nearly doubled the size of the disaster relief package for Harvey, to both help Harvey victims in Texas, and to prepare for the next assault from Irma. The aid package of some $15 billion, will include community development block grants for rebuilding. Fortune

P&G launches Loads of Hope in Texas
Speaking of making a difference in the world, P&G will have its Loads of Hope truck onsite at the H-E-B store in Rockport, Texas to offer free laundry service and bags of toiletries — diapers, shampoo, and razors — for residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.m“The purpose of the P&G mobile relief program is to provide everyday essential products to people across the U.S. where and when they are needed the most,” said spokeswoman Alexandra Skipper in an email. Bookmark the link, the location will change every few days.

The National Cathedral is removing two Confederate memorials
Much of the world learned that there were two stained-glass windows honoring Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson at the Washington National Cathedral only when their removals were announced this week. "We have concluded that these windows tell an incomplete and misleading account of our history," the cathedral’s leadership said in a statement. "We are committed to finding ways to offer a richer, more balanced expression of our nation's history."

The Woke Leader

IncludeU30: Friends, colleagues, countrypersons, lend me your privilege
Anjuan Simmons has been in tech for years — first at Accenture and Deloitte, and now in the startup world — but he considers his true calling to be evangelizing on behalf of inclusion. But as our seventh instructor in our month-long collective exercise on inclusive leadership, he asks that you become one, too. His challenge to you: Lend someone else the benefit of your unique privilege. And we all have some to share. Click through for more.

America’s first white president
Ta-Nehisi Coates is back with a must-read treatise on Donald Trump’s presidency. He points out early and powerfully that he is the first president after Barack Obama, a black man whose very presence was an insult to those who believe in the overarching entitlement of whiteness. “It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power,” he writes. And yet, “Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president.” His rise to power must be examined in depth. “He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.”
The Atlantic

The Red Road Project
Photographer Carlotta Cardana and writer Danielle SeeWalker have driven more than 15,000 miles across the U.S, telling the story of Native American people and their identities today in a collection of photographs and blog posts. The collection offers a poignant counterpoint to the dismal narrative of addiction and despair that tends to be the only story that gets told about indigenous American life.
The Red Road Project


'This is your heritage,' he said, as if from this dance we could know about his own childhood, about the flavor and grit of tenement buildings in Spanish Harlem, and projects in Red Hook, and dance halls, and city parks, and about his own Paps, how he beat him, how he taught him to dance, as if we could hear Spanish in his movements, as if Puerto Rico was a man in a bathrobe, grabbing another beer from the fridge and raising it to drink, his head back, still dancing, still steeping and snapping perfectly in time.
—Justin Torres