Wall Street titan to CEOs: It's not just about the money

Dow hits 26,000 milestone
Dow hits 26,000 milestone

Larry Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, has a message for major companies: Do more to help society.

The investment guru has written to leading CEOs to urge them to expand their focus beyond profit, and work to improve the world.

"Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose," Fink wrote in his letter, a copy of which was shared with CNNMoney. "To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society."

The business community is likely to take notice. BlackRock (BLK) is a hugely influential investor, managing nearly $6 trillion in assets.

The idea that companies should consider how their actions affect society -- and not only their bottom line -- has gained currency in recent years. Investments designed to improve the world are becoming more popular, and some companies have incorporated broader social and environment goals into their mission.

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Fink said that corporate missions that extend beyond pure profit help everyone.

"Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate," he wrote. "Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential."

The message won't be cheered in all quarters. Some corporate leaders hold that their sole obligation is to maximize returns to shareholders.

But that view is being challenged more frequently.

Some companies are changing their legal responsibilities to reflect social and environmental priorities. And some of the biggest names in finance are adjusting their businesses to reflect growing demand for so-called impact investments.

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