The 2017 Fortune Change the World List highlights 50 companies that are finding business value in addressing some of the world's biggest social challenges. As we've seen in the news headlines, business-as-usual is changing. The conventional wisdom that business exists only to deliver profits to its shareholders is being challenged. As this year's list demonstrates, in their quest for profits companies are also 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 in today's environment business can—and must—compete to change the world.
The Shared Value Initiative is proud to partner with some of these world-changing companies - we invite you to read more about how these leaders are using innovation to drive business and social results.
Finding the right balance between a potent drug pipeline and people-friendly pricing.
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has made waves with a drug pipeline that includes one of the most talked-about experimental cancer therapies in recent years—a treatment called Kymriah that reconfigures the body’s own immune cells to become aggressive blood-cancer killers. Kymriah just won a milestone FDA approval to become the first drug in its class.
Innovation comes in many forms, and the company has shown a willingness to apply this same creativity to its drug pricing structure, adhering to the philosophy that medicines should be judged on their worth. The company’s access initiatives in developing nations reflect one aspect of that thinking: Novartis offers treatments for deadly chronic illnesses at $1 per treatment per month to governments and public-sector customers in poor countries, as well as education and screenings in places like India, Kenya, and Vietnam.
Novartis has also set out to change how the biopharma industry and governments approach drug pricing and development. Its Sandoz unit was the first to win U.S. approval of a “biosimilar” drug—a treatment that’s the cheaper generic equivalent of some of the world’s most expensive therapies. Novartis has several more biosimilars marketed in other countries (as well as an FDA approved copycat of Amgen’s bestselling treatment Enbrel, which hasn’t reached the U.S. yet due to patent spats), and three others in late-stage clinical development.
CEO Joe Jimenez, who recently announced that he would retire next year, is also cochair for a global “value-based pricing” project that wants to figure out how to best match health care costs with patient outcomes. For Novartis, it’s not just a theoretical concept. In the case of Kymriah, the company will get reimbursements only if patients respond to treatment within a month
Weaning itself, and millions of customers, from sugar.
The more scientists study sugar, the more they discover how harmful it can be. Nestlé has cut added sugars across most of its portfolio, and plans to cut 5% more by 2020. It has also poured R&D money into changing sugar’s structure. By essentially creating a hollowed-out crystal, Nestlé thinks it can reduce the amount it uses in certain products (including chocolate) by up to 40%.
A concrete maker helps put roofs over more people’s heads in Latin America.
Cemex, one of the world’s largest suppliers of cement, concrete, and aggregates, has gone to great lengths to foster sustainable building practices in Latin America. Its program, dubbed “Growing,” has reached 3 million people. In Mexico alone, an estimated 6.7% of the homes repaired in the last 20 years have benefited from Cemex’s green building push.
“Growing” is about more than altruism: It also builds a market for the company’s products. One element of the program provides Cemex materials for houses and home improvement to families earning less than $3 a day. Households with slightly higher salaries can obtain loans to finance similar purchases. And other Cemex programs train would-be contractors (and potential future customers) in construction and entrepreneurship.
Cemex has also been tackling one of the region’s endemic problems: unsafe stoves. Cemex’s Clean Cookstoves are concrete stoves that have been installed to replace dangerous and open stoves in over 80,000 households in Latin America.
A multinational energy company strives to lower the world’s carbon footprint.
Becoming entirely carbon-neutral by 2050: That’s what this company, which generates and distributes energy in 30 countries, has set its sights on doing. In 2015, 46% of the energy Enel supplied was produced without any carbon dioxide emissions. Enel recently created the first geothermal plant in Latin America (in Cerro Pabellon, Chile). It has also been teaming up with smaller energy innovators: Over the past two years, Enel has collaborated on 80 sustainability projects by startups, including a “Vehicle-to-Grid” hub in Denmark that channels surplus energy from electric cars back into the main power grid.
Creating jobs for older workers in a society that often forces them to retire early.
For South Koreans, age isn’t just a number, but a problem in a land where the elderly population is growing rapidly. By 2050, more than half of its workers will be over 50, and almost half of those over 65 years today are in poverty. Aggravating this issue: Mandatory retirement ages of 55 or 60 are common in the country.
Conglomerate CJ Group has offered those who are cast out of the workforce a way back in: delivering its packages. Under CJ Logistics, the company has trained older people to be delivery agents across most of the country’s provinces. Over 1,000 jobs have been created, and the average monthly income is 180% higher than that offered in part-time public-sector jobs for seniors. CJ aims to expand this model to those with disabilities and low-income populations. “One of the most important things a corporation can do is to create jobs,” said Heekyung Jo Min, a social-responsibility executive at the company.
Some of the country’s most noteworthy nonprofits owe their fundraising success to Blackbaud. The company, based in Charleston, S.C., sells enterprise software that can manage big philanthropic and charitable projects; it helped power 2014’s ice bucket challenge, in which the ALS Association raised $115 million to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease. And its own shares have more than doubled in the last three years.
ABOUT THE LIST
The Fortune Change the World List highlights leading companies that are innovating to solve the world’s biggest challenges through core profit-making strategy and operations. Building on the concept of shared value, the list recognizes companies not for their philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), or other “business-as-usual” approaches, but for innovative activities that create material business value while contributing to societal impact.
Companies with $1Bn+ in revenue were evaluated on 3 essential criteria:
The Fortune Change the World List will be published in the September 15, 2017 issue and will be online on or around September 7, 2017.
Each year, Fortune looks for new companies with recent impact. Companies that made the list in one year are rarely considered for a second year in a row. The initial solicitation and assessment of nominees is conducted in partnership with FSG, a nonprofit social-impact consulting firm, the Shared Value Initiative, a global platform for organizations seeking business solutions to social challenges, and Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School. A team of journalists from Fortune then investigates each of the candidates independently. The final list of 50 is selected by the editors of Fortune based on the magazine’s own reporting and analysis.