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raceAhead: Let’s Change the World

June 14, 2018, 12:49 PM UTC

Happy Flag (and World Cup) Day!

Today, I’d like to give you a chance to raise a flag (not a red card) for a company you believe is changing the world for the better.

Telling the stories of companies and business leaders that do well by doing good—that address social problems as part of their profit-making activity—is a central part of Fortune’s editorial mission. Later this summer, we’ll feature more than 50 such companies in our 4th annual Change the World list, with extensive coverage both online and in our September magazine issue.

Do you work for or appreciate a world-changing company? We’d love to know.

It’s become a fascinating exercise all around. While we tend to focus on companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more, that’s not always the case. Last year’s rising stars included Tableau, a Seattle-based data analytics firm that built a disease monitoring system that helped reduce reported malaria infections in Zambia by 93% since 2014, and Ireland’s Medentech, a company that produces disinfectant tabs that can kill disease-causing microorganisms in water.

And we’re always looking for important developments within companies whose businesses we think we already know well — like J.P. Morgan Chase’s ongoing commitment to reviving Detroit and other urban economies.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Measurable social impact: We consider the reach, nature, and durability of the company’s impact on one or more specific societal problems. This category receives extra weight.
  2. Business results: We consider the benefit the socially impactful work brings to the company. Profitability and contribution to shareholder value outweigh benefits to the company’s’ reputation.
  3. Degree of innovation: We consider how innovative the company’s effort is relative to that of others in its industry, and whether other companies have followed its example.
  4. Corporate Integration: We consider how integral the initiative is to a company’s overall strategy, and how well that strategy is communicated through the ranks and elsewhere.

To learn more about the list, and to nominate your company or a company you admire, visit our Change the World information page. If you’ve got questions about the nomination process, please contact McKenna Moore, at Be sure to use the subject line “CHANGE THE WORLD QUERY” in your email. She loves all caps.

Mark your calendars! The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 20, 2018. We’re looking forward to learning more about the companies that have earned your praise.

Our intrepid Change the World team salutes you in advance.

On Point

London Breed is San Francisco's first-ever black, woman mayorAnd it’s a really big deal, proclaims the San Francisco ChronicleNot only is she the first woman of color, she’s only the second woman ever to lead the city, following in the footsteps of Dianne Feinstein, who became mayor in 1978 after the murder of Mayor George Moscone. Currently, the mayors of the country’s fifteen biggest cities are all men; New York and Los Angeles have never had a woman city manager. Breed, who grew up in public housing, has a very different perspective on power. “Never let your circumstances determine your outcome in life,” she said after she was elected. Click through for her plan, called A Bold Approach to Homelessness. “With commitment and the right investments, we can create a San Francisco where no one is forced, relegated, or allowed to sleep on the streets, and where no one endures addiction or mental illness on the streets without supportive and effective services,” she begins.Medium

Supporting transgender employees
She Geeks Out, a diversity and inclusion education organization, has compiled a helpful list of ideas for companies who want to do a better job supporting transgender employees. It’s a terrific resource, with both first-person explainers and practical tips to help inform your thinking on everything from allyship, health care, and transitioning at work, to building a smart transgender employment policy. There’s also a wonderful podcast featuring Dr. Huong Diep, a psychologist who focuses on the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. She’s a fascinating person in her own right, a multi-lingual Peace Corps alum, who has traveled to some 40 countries.
She Geeks Out

Politicos these days: “There aren’t enough white kids to go around”
This is the concern of Arizona Representative David Stringer, who was quoted as he spoke candidly at a men’s gathering. His went on to say that immigration is an “existential threat” to the country, and one that if left unaddressed, would be reflected in the voter base in the next decade. Stringer is not alone. In Virginia, Corey Stewart, who has aligned himself with white supremacists in the past, won a recent Senate primary over the objections of the Republican establishment. Stewart gained national attention as the head of Prince William County Board of Supervisors, which voted unanimously to deny services to any undocumented immigrants in 2007, and further called on police to check the immigration status of anyone they arrested.
Phoenix New Times

The modern comic book industry better reflects the world
Here’s a terrific Q&A with George Gene Gustines, a senior editor in graphics and video for the New York Times, who has a double life as a comic industry reporter. His expertise yields some interesting insights into how graphic novels are becoming a global and in some cases, an inclusive, force. While the specific point of this piece is how technology is changing the comic game — the go-to distributor of digital comics is owned by Amazon, for one — he also reflects on how aware the industry has become. In one example, he cites The Nib, a site that presents essays in drawn panel form, like cartoonist Ronald Wimberly’s thoughts on “how shifting skin tones can convey subtle racism."
New York Times

The Woke Leader

Opinion: Are Muslims the new “model minority”?
Khaled Beydoun, an author and law professor, wonders why the stories of Muslims who are living in poverty in the U.S. aren’t a bigger part of the conversation. “They’re largely ignored by a media that often characterizes Muslims as industrious entrepreneurs and well-educated professionals, countering Islamophobia with ‘model minority’ stereotypes that unintentionally obscure the experiences of struggling Muslims,” he says. Research says that some 35% of Muslims are living just above the federal poverty line; Beydoun grew up on Detroit’s West Side, a Muslim community with people from Syria and Iraq, Yemen and West Africa, who often live fraught lives. And while wealthier Muslims give generously during Ramadan, they often miss the opportunity to help others near them the rest of the year.
New York Times

On returning to natural hair
Nana Agyemang has written a beautiful essay that describes her feelings on cutting off her chemically relaxed hair. “I hadn’t seen my natural hair since I was three years old,” she said. Not only that, she wasn’t sure she wanted to. For one, the Ghanian immigrant had been rewarded in her career and social life for mimicking white standards of beauty. Further, natural curls were taboo in her upper-middle-class black community — both in Ghana and the U.S. “In Ghana when you wore relaxed hair as an adult, it meant you were professional and from the upper class. You could afford to sit in the hair salon on Sundays for three to four hours for the cream to transform your kinks to loose strands and leave feeling ‘beautiful.’” But instead of being shunned, her natural look has been both freeing and bonding. “The moment I asked my aunt to come over and cut all my relaxed hair off, she was thrilled and said, ‘About time you’re joining the movement.’”

The privilege of not having to think about race
Weike Wang, the author of the 2018 PEN/Hemingway award-winning novel Chemistry, has a new story in the New Yorker’s current fiction issue. “Omakase” takes place at a Japanese restaurant in Harlem, which specializes in omakase dining, a chef-driven experience. In this interview, she shares the story behind the narrative. For one, the dining couple — the man is white and the woman is Chinese American — address a familiar tension. She is concerned that his interest in her is based on race. “This woman is more preoccupied with race than the man is, because race has permeated more aspects of her life,” explains Wang. “The woman does not want to be made to look like a fool, so she assesses all possible reasons for the man’s interest in her, starting with the most obvious and perhaps the most hurtful one,” says Wang. “Not having to think about one’s race is, I believe, a privilege.” You can listen to her read the short story here.
New Yorker


I’ll tell you my secret, the one thing that has kept me going through the years, my superpower: delusion. This is something I may share with our President, a fact that is both horrifying and interesting. Two years in, I think we can pretty safely say that he’s not getting carved onto Mount Rushmore; but damn if that is not a testament to how far you can get by just by believing that you are the smartest, most successful person in the world. My point is: You have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real.
Mindy Kaling