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Business Beyond Profits: raceAhead

Hi everyone! Fortune commentary editor Tamara El-Waylly here, covering for Ellen for a few days.

Climate change, immigration, and LGBTQ rights: These are just some of the issues customers want—and increasingly expect—businesses to address, reports Axios, particularly at a time when there’s (very) little trust in the government.

Fortune’s fifth annual Change the World list, which we published this morning, points to some of the companies that have taken up the social responsibility mantle, although in widely different forms.

There’s Qualcomm, the list’s top-ranking company, which is using technology to enable greener practices. There’s Intel, which isn’t just promoting diversity within its ranks, but in its supply chains. And smaller companies, like Aira’s technology that helps the visually impaired, are introducing technologies that will have their own transformative impact. (Curious? Check out the Companies to Watch list.) 

And there’s 36th-ranked Duolingo, a free (with ads) language app. The app, as Fortune editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf writes, has “mastered the art of converting human downtime into something valuable” for its 28 million users. 

Obviously, it’s profitable to address consumer’s expectations of businesses. But there’s also been palpable shift in thinking—and it’s starting from the top. As Fortune Media Group CEO Alan Murray writes: “At a time when the nation’s political leadership is tied in knots, more interested in fighting partisan battles than in uniting to solve public problems, business leadership is filling the leadership vacuum.”

Look at the Business Roundtable statement, he points out. There was a diversity and inclusion mention—and it was before shareholders even came up. 

Check out the full Change the World list here.

On Point

NYPD fires the cop who killed Eric Garner “It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York police officer,” Commissioner Commissioner James O’Neill said of the decision to immediately dismiss Pantaleo. Pantaleo will not receive his pension. This is two weeks after a disciplinary hearing found Pantaleo guilty of using an illegal chokehold, and five years overdue. Emerald Garner, Eric Garner’s daughter, said during a press conference shortly after the announcement: “I should be standing here with my father. But Pantaleo took that away from me on 7/17. Yes, he’s fired. But the fight is not over. We will continue to fight.” Live updates here. CNN

Stephen Curry sponsors a Howard University golf program It was Howard University student Otis Ferguson who apparently first planted the idea in Curry’s head. The NBA star is after all, according to the Washington Post, “a passionate golfer.” And the two bonded over their love of the sport. The fact that the university didn’t have a golf program struck a chord with Curry—and now he’s sponsoring both a men’s and women’s team. The funds (the total amount remains undisclosed) will be paid over a six-year period, until it’s “self-sustainable.” The athletes in the program must also volunteer for Eat. Learn. Play., Steph and Ayesha Curry’s foundation for child development. “Golf has always been a game of privilege,” Kery Davis, the university’s athletic director, said. This offers a chance to “break down barriers.” Washington Post

Illinois prison removed content on black history from library Books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Souls of Black Folk were among the 200 books removed from the Danville Correctional Center’s library, “because many had ‘racial’ content or addressed issues like diversity and inclusion,” reports the Chicago Tribune. Tensions between the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Education Justice Project (EJP), which provides an education program for inmates, led to a pause to the program and a material review, and then came the ban. While the EJP program has since been restored, it’s without the removed books. The controversy—and a few hearings—has led to an IDOC promise to reform their review process. Chicago Tribune

On Background

The potential of non-gendered language In 2012, Sweden added the non-gendered pronoun hen into its official dictionary. In a recent study, researchers Margit Tavits and Efrén O. Pérez decided to explore whether the hen option could have an impact on associations and assumptions. (Spoiler: yes.) By asking over 2,000 Swedes to describe what was happening in a doodle of a cartoon person and a dog, they found that, rather than assume a gender, people went with the non-binary pronoun. It’s a glimpse into how new language can introduce new ideas, and the “implicit promise of letting people choose their pronouns.” Wired

Arab netizens: The use of blackface needs to stop Blackface “is alive and well in mainstream Arab entertainment,” the New York Times reports. While not the only place to still use blackface (just recently, Italy, Mexico, and Australia), in much of the Arab world it’s taken as just another form of humor. But that’s slowly changing. Some are taking to social media to protest its continued use, and change what is seen as “a tolerance of racism” that manifests in different ways throughout the region, including abuse. In some cases, the criticism on social media has been forceful enough to prompt an apology—a rarity, still. New York Times


“There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…”

—Milton Friedman, from Capitalism and Freedom (1962)