How CEOs Will Make The World A Better Place In 2017

We asked six CEOs from across industries how they plan to positively impact the world in 2017.

How CEOs Will Make The World A Better Place In 2017

Fast Company asked CEOs across industries—social good, sexual health, beauty, tech, and more—about how, in the face of uncertainty, they will seek to improve the world around us during the coming year. Here’s what they had to say.


Create More Opportunities For Underrepresented People Of Color In Tech

Laura Weidman Powers, cofounder and CEO of tech diversity nonprofit Code2040 (currently also a senior policy adviser to U.S. chief technology officer Megan Smith):

[Photo: courtesy of Code2040]

“We’re working on deepening our impact through growing the Fellows Program, iterating on our student programs Tech Trek and TAP, and broadening our offerings for our company partners committed to diversifying their workforces. We’re also working with Google for Entrepreneurs on bringing the Code2040 Residency to its eighth city, Atlanta. And you’ll see a lot more from us around sharing our learnings in order to enable others to lead on closing the wealth gap for Blacks and Latinos, while creating more opportunities for underrepresented communities of color in tech.”

Recruit Women-Led Startups To Donate Profits To Planned Parenthood

Meika Hollender, cofounder and co-CEO of female-friendly condom brand Sustain Natural:

[Photo: courtesy of Sustain Natural]

“This is a really critical time for the women’s sexual and reproductive health industry. With a political climate that’s threatening to move women’s health backward, it’s up to businesses to keep women’s health moving forward. As we gear up for a year where access to reproductive health care services and birth control are likely to become less accessible, it’s companies like Sustain that become tasked with educating, empowering, and providing products to all women throughout this country. Additionally, Sustain has always donated 10% of its profits to organizations like Planned Parenthood through our 10%4Women program. In 2017, we aim to get other women-led businesses to join this program, similar to 1% for the planet, as the funding for many of these organizations is at serious risk.”

Parse DonorsChoose Data To Help Inform Education Funding

Charles Best, founder and CEO of education nonprofit DonorsChoose:

[Photo: courtesy of DonorsChoose]

“Beyond the classroom materials, we see three opportunities for to make the world a better place in 2017: 1) We can use our data about what teachers need for their classrooms—data that we’ve opened to the public—to uncover trends that could help make education spending smarter. 2) We can partner with creators and innovators to bring cutting-edge technology into the classroom, like we’ve done so far with MakerBot and OpenROV. 3) We can reward teachers who bring new learning opportunities to their students (advanced courses, coding, financial literacy, etc.) with funding credits to help them continue to excel. “


Promote High-Quality Food, From Production To Consumption

Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly USA, the U.S. branch of Italian food market Eataly:

[Photo: courtesy of Eataly]

“Promoting the benefits of high-quality food through the entire process—from production to consumption—is at the core of our values and the base of our company manifesto. We want everyone to realize that what we put inside our body is more important that what we place on the outside.

“We follow the Slow Food mantra of ‘Good, Clean, and Fair.’ GOOD: quality, flavorful, and healthy food; CLEAN: Production that does not harm the environment; and FAIR: Accessible prices for consumers, and fair conditions and pay for producers. This is the goal we strive to achieve every day: Creating a better world by promoting the best quality food.”


Support Local Farmers And Scientists

Karen Behnke, founder and CEO of organic skin care and beauty brand Juice Beauty:

[Photo: Karen Behnke]

“As much as possible, we will continue to support West Coast farmers first before going elsewhere. We will continue to work closely with teams of PhDs, chemists, microbiologists, and physicians at both University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, to solve complex formulation challenges. We believe that by tapping into our local environment, resources, and talent, it is better for both our community and our ecosystem.”

Turn The Act Of Giving Into A Habit

Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of clean water nonprofit Charity: water:

[Screenshot: courtesy of Charity: water]

“We’re committed to helping reach a day where every single person on the planet has clean and safe water to drink. Currently, 663 million people lack access to this basic need. We’ve just launched a new monthly giving community called The Spring. It’s the first time we’ve promoted a monthly giving or subscriber membership program, and the growth this year has been phenomenal. We’ll continue to inspire people to join the community, and find innovative ways to connect our Spring members to the impact on human lives their monthly gifts make around the world. “

About the author

Pavithra Mohan is a staff writer for Fast Company.