Leadership

Here are 3 ways that Apple CEO Tim Cook is trying to change the world

Apple CEO Tim Cook is a staunch advocate of corporations doing their part to help improve the world.

Cook, who took the reins from the late Steve Jobs in 2011 and is one of America's highest-paid chief executives, believes people should develop their morals and character and bring a spirit of helping others to the workplace.

"Your values matter. They are your North Star. And work takes on new meaning when you feel you are pointed in the right direction," he said at a 2015 commencement address to George Washington University graduates. "Otherwise, it's just a job, and life is too short for that."

"And there is opportunity to do work that is infused with moral purpose," added Cook, who plans to one day donate almost all his money to charity. "You don't have to choose between doing good and doing well. It's a false choice, today more than ever."

"You don't have to choose between doing good and doing well." -Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Here are three issues Cook has taken on in an attempt to improve the world, both personally and professionally.

Equal rights

In 2014, Cook became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. In doing so, he promoted equal rights for all.

"If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality," he wrote in a Bloomberg essay, "then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy."

Cook added, "We'll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up."

Tim Cook
Sally Shin | CNBC
Tim Cook

The environment

In a recent interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer, Cook talked about his company's efforts to create jobs in the U.S. and also to help the planet.

"One of the things you do is give back. So how do you give back?" he said. "We give back through our work in the environment, in running the company on renewable energy. We give back in job creation."

APPLE IPHONE
Bloomberg | Getty Images

At Climate Week NYC in 2014, Cook also broached the subject and challenged other companies to do the same.

"Companies have to communicate to consumers about what they are selling and they have to do it in a way that incorporates the whole of their footprint, not just one piece of it that they are looking good," Cook said. "If you have enough companies that begin to do this, then consumers will vote with their dollars."

Privacy

Cook also spoke about the importance of privacy rights after the San Bernardino shooting, which prompted a judge to ask Apple to unlock the shooter's iPhone as part of the FBI's investigation.

"When I think of civil liberties, I think of the founding principles of the country," said Cook. "The freedoms that are in the First Amendment. But also the fundamental right to privacy.

"But at the end of the day, we're going to fight the good fight not only for our customers but for the country," the CEO said. "We're in this bizarre position where we're defending the civil liberties of the country against the government. Who would have ever thought this would happen?"

See also:

Apple CEO Tim Cook shares 2 key lessons for leaders

5 things you missed from Apple CEO Tim Cook's interview with Cramer