A New Dawn for Corporate Leadership

Sep 11, 2017 12:00 PM ET

Change the World? Indeed! The world already seems to be changing more quickly than anyone can keep up with. From one breathless headline to the next, we are seeing faster and more disruptive change about issues of global consequence than ever before. 

And yet, our work with Fortune on the annual Change the World list has shown us a parallel and far more hopeful new narrative. Business leaders are now deeply engaged in the pressing societal issues of our day as they increasingly recognize that those issues affect the long-term success of their companies. Whether it’s the post-Charlottesville dialogue on racial equity, changes to immigration law that will impact Dreamers, or the Paris Climate Change Accord, we see business leaders advocating in a newly public, vigorous and informed way for solutions that align social progress with their core business interests. Prominent CEOs like Tim Cook (Apple), Ken Frazier (Merck) and Paul Polman (Unilever) have taken public stands on these issues and many more. And, as the Fortune list demonstrates, they are doing more than just speaking up; they are developing new business models that find new sources of profit in solving our society’s urgent problems. These changes in business leadership feel note-worthy, but what do they portend both for the future of business and the direction of our society?

Read more about the evolution of corporate leadership and the 2017 Fortune Change the World List