Mark Kramer: Who Are the Top Companies Changing the World?

Business can—and must—compete to change the world. (Image: Unsplash)

By Mark Kramer, Managing Director, FSG

Business-as-usual is changing. The conventional wisdom that capitalism comes at great cost to society is being challenged. Instead, we’ve observed that the most innovative companies are using those same market drivers—the ones that have until now been a cause of such criticism and skepticism—as drivers for positive change in the world.

Fortune’s new "Change the World" List contributes to this trend. As Fortune Editor Alan Murray explains, "It is meant to shine a spotlight on companies that have made significant progress in addressing major social problems as a part of their core business strategy." We at FSG and the Shared Value Initiative lent our expertise to help collect and vet nominations for the list. 


This is the first list of its kind in which companies are recognized—and competitively ranked—on business innovations that positively impact pressing social and environmental issues. The presence of such a list in the pages of Fortune is news itself as when Michael Porter and I first described shared value in 2011, companies creating shared value were more the exception than the rule. The Fortune "Change the World" List shows us that the concept of aligning business opportunity and social impact is moving into the mainstream.

On the "Change the World" list, you’ll find familiar companies that we’ve highlighted in the past as well as a few surprises—but to be clear, this is not a "good company" ranking. We agree with Murray: "We recognize that these are large global companies with complex operations that may be ameliorating one great global problem even as they contribute to another."

But one thing the "Change the World" companies all have in common is that they recognize the business value in addressing societal needs. In their quest for profits, they are driving innovations that improve health outcomes, make progress on climate change, provide better access to education, and create new economic opportunities for those in poverty. They realize that business can—and must—compete to change the world.

Which companies are changing the world? Find out who made the Fortune list and browse best practices on sharedvalue.org. To share your story of how creating shared value has helped your company achieve impact and results, please contact Meghan Ennes at meghan.ennes@sharedvalue.org. 

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