Best Practices

Best Practices in Impact Investing

June 2019

Today’s corporate stakeholders (employees, consumers, communities, investors) are taking a closer look at the impact of the business as part of a wider social, environmental, cultural and economic context.

The most effective companies are collecting and assessing a range of impact data and leveraging the insights created to accelerate positive change for the business and for society overall.

This report provides information and insight related to corporate impact and the rising trend of impact investment, as well as a number of corporate examples of how companies are responding to the emerging challenge.

The impact a company has increasingly extends beyond its own operations to include the short-and
long-term changes the business generates for individuals, communities, and society.

Impacts are created across the value chain, from the way in which raw materials are sourced through
to how products are used and disposed. They range from how a business supports the livelihoods of
small-scale suppliers to what a product’s carbon footprint is when it is used by the consumer.

Today’s corporate stakeholders (employees, consumers, communities, investors) are taking a close
look at the impact of the business as part of a wider social, environmental, cultural and economic
context. The most effective companies are collecting and assessing a range of impact data and
leveraging the insights created to accelerate positive change for the business and for society overall.

This report provides information and insight related to corporate impact and the rising trend of
impact investment, as well as a number of corporate examples of how companies are responding to
the emerging challenge.

ESG and Impact Investing

Environmental, social, and governance—ESG criteria are a set of standards for a company’s
operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments.

Environmental criteria may include a company’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource
conservation and treatment of animals. The criteria can also be used in evaluating any
environmental risks a company might face and how the company is managing those risks. For
example, are there issues related to its ownership of contaminated land, its disposal of hazardous
waste, its management of toxic emissions or its compliance with the government’s environmental

Social criteria look at the company’s business relationships. Does it work with suppliers that hold
the same values as it claims to hold? Does the company donate a percentage of its profits to the
local community or encourage employees to perform volunteer work there? Do the company’s
working conditions show a high regard for its employees’ health and safety? Are other stakeholders’
interests taken into account?

With regard to governance criteria, investors may want to know that a company uses accurate and
transparent accounting methods and that stockholders are given an opportunity to vote on
important issues. They may also want assurances that companies avoid conflicts of interest in their
choice of board members, don’t use political contributions to obtain unduly favorable treatment
and, of course, don’t engage in illegal practices.

Impact Investing: Rising Trend

In recent years, as younger investors, in particular, have shown an interest in putting their money
where their values are, brokerage firms and mutual fund companies have begun to offer exchange- traded funds and other financial products that follow ESG criteria.

A study of 22,000 investment professionals found that 78% have increased their investments in firms that
have a strong corporate social responsibility track record. According to the most recent report from US
SIF Foundation, investors held $11.6 trillion in assets chosen according to ESG criteria at the beginning of
2018, up from $8.1 trillion just two years earlier.

For example, Boston-based Trillium Asset Management, with $2.5 billion under management, uses a selection of ESG factors to help identify companies positioned for strong long-term performance.
Trillium’s ESG criteria, determined in part by analysts who identify issues facing different sectors and
industries, include avoiding companies with known exposure to coal mining and those with more than 5%
of their revenues from nuclear power or weapons. It also avoids investing in companies with major recent or ongoing controversies related to workplace discrimination, corporate governance and animal welfare,
among other issues.

The BlackRock Impact Bond seeks to provide income and capital growth by investing in a portfolio of fixed
income including corporate bonds of companies with positive aggregate societal impact outcomes such
as corporate citizenship, high impact disease research, greenhouse gas emissions, ethics controversies, and litigation.

As ESG-minded business practices gain more traction, investment firms are increasingly tracking their
performance. Financial services companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs
have published annual reports that extensively review their ESG approaches and the bottom-line results.

Impact Investing: Rising Trend

Younger people are significantly more likely than older people to be investing sustainably as a way of positively impacting society. Millennials are more likely to value and invest in sustainable investment funds. 52% of Millennials often or always invest in sustainable investment funds, compared to 40% of Generation X and 31% of Baby Boomers.

Countries that exhibit more sustainable behaviors are also more likely to invest in sustainable funds. The top
five countries by rate of people exhibiting sustainable behaviors show an average of 65% investing sustainably, while the bottom five average a lowly 27%.

Key Takeaways

• Impact Investing is best described as directing capital to organizations that generate social or
environmental benefits.
• Sustainable investments offer people the opportunity to apply the same social and environmental
values to their investments as they do in their day-to-day lives.
• Environmental, social and governance – ESG criteria are an increasingly popular way for investors
to evaluate companies they might want to invest it.
• Many mutual funds, brokerage firms and robo-advisors now offer products that employ ESG
• ESG criteria can also help investors avoid companies that might pose a greater financial risk due
to their environmental or other practices.

Understanding Corporate Impact

Assessing Impact

Data-driven impact studies can provide corporations with a deep understanding of their touchpoints
with society. They can help companies answer questions such as:
• Does purchasing from local businesses create jobs and reduce risks, such as over-dependence
on certain suppliers?
• Are lowest paid workers falling below local and national averages?
• What is the gender diversity in the supply chain?
• How do our environmental emissions compare to those of competitors?
• What is the environmental footprint of a product?
• How have training programs improved the skills of the workforce?
• How have investments improved local infrastructure?
• What is the size of the relevant talent pool in the communities of operation? Does it meet
current and emerging needs?
• Are products reaching all parts of the market, particularly underserved ones? What new needs
might be met?

Case Studies

Case: Prudential Financial Invests in Opportunity Youth

Prudential Financial recently doubled down on its commitment to make lives better by solving the
financial challenges of our changing world, committing more than $180 million through 2025 to
support young people aged 15-29 worldwide who lack access to school, training or regular jobs — a
segment of the global population often referred to as opportunity youth. To date, this is the largest
private-sector investment in this group.

Prudential’s investment will help young people across the globe gain the right skills to compete for
and succeed in quality jobs. This population segment, which accounts for 350 million people
worldwide, represents untapped potential for the future workforce. The company will support
dedicated partnerships through grants, corporate contributions and impact investments to improve
financial security for youth in more than 70 countries.

“Businesses like ours have a role to play in ensuring that global economic progress benefits all
members of tomorrow’s workforce. Our goal is to improve young people’s lives by creating
pathways for them to achieve financial wellness, strengthen their communities and ultimately
help drive the global economy.” Charles Lowrey, Prudential Chairman and CEO

Bank of America Invests in the Environment

Bank of America (BoA) has announced it will mobilize an additional $300 billion in capital by 2030
through its Environmental Business Initiative. This third commitment increases the company’s
investment in low-carbon business activities as part of its focus on deploying capital for responsible,
sustainable growth. Through lending, investing, capital raising, advisory services and developing
financing solutions, this new commitment will drive innovation and help to accelerate the transition
to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

The $300 billion goal brings BoA’s total commitment to more than $445 billion since 2007, when the
company issued its first Environmental Business Initiative. The bank has deployed more than $126
billion over the past 12 years in support of environmental business efforts across the globe. This
commitment, like the previous two, will not impact corporate expenses.

“The need to mobilize and deploy capital to address climate change has never been more urgent.
As one of the world’s largest financial institutions, Bank of America has a responsibility and an
important role to play in helping to mitigate and build resilience to climate change by using our
expertise and resources, as well as our ability to convene partners across sectors, to accelerate the
transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon society.” Anne Finucane, Bank of America Vice Chairman

Mondelez International Improves Lives and the Supply Chain

Mondelez Coffee International realized that it could make a big impact on the lives of coffee
farmers, many of whom struggle to make a good living, while also securing its supply chain. The
company created the Coffee Made Happy program, which will invest $200 million to support one
million coffee farming entrepreneurs by 2020.

Through Coffee Made Happy, the company champions better agricultural practices, equipping
farmers with the skills to be successful entrepreneurs and making coffee farming attractive for
future generations. Mondelez, which buys around 6% to 7% of global coffee production, has trained
more than 300,000 farmers in 2015. It is also working with 24,000 farmers in Ethiopia and 16,500 in
Honduras, where it buys more than 30% of the country’s arabica crop. There are also projects
running in Vietnam, Peru, and Indonesia.

The program is creating a more robust global coffee supply chain, while also improving the quality
of life of the farmers that participate.

Gender-Based Investing

Morgan Stanley is urging its nearly 16,000 financial advisers to embrace female-friendly investment
strategies and to talk with clients about investing in companies that are supportive of women,
according to a report in Investment News.

Recently, the firm began sending advisers a primer on investing in businesses with women in top
leadership roles or that provide products and services benefiting females.

The firm started the initiative after hearing from brokers and clients that they were looking for ideas
to invest in companies supportive of gender equality.

Morgan Stanley’s Parity Portfolio—a fund for ultra high-net-worth individuals—uses the number
of women on boards of directors as an investment screen.

What’s the ROI?

Studies show that 90% of a woman’s income is reinvested into her family and community, more than twice the percentage of a man’s. McKinsey found that the global economy could be between $12 trillion and $28 trillion larger in 2025 if gender gaps in work and society were
reduced or eliminated.

That’s larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of any single country, including the U.S. and China. In short, investing in women is good for business, good for the economy, and good for people of all gender identities.

Intersection of Philanthropy and Financial Power

The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) was formed with the intention of bring together the
financial power and influence of funders of gender equity in order to address and solve critical and
complex social issues ranging from poverty to global security. Formed 33 years ago in California, the
WFN now includes more than 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning 23 countries, with a
number of successful campaigns to their credit.

One example is the three-year program run by Women Win, which reached more than 65,000
adolescent girls and young women in seven countries. As a result, nine out of 10 girls involved in the
scheme know that a woman has the right to say no to sex, 70% know where to get money to start a
business, 97% of their parents had an improved perception of their daughter as a leader, and eight
out of 10 now know how to prevent pregnancy, compared to only three out of 10 before.


Net-Works is an innovative partnership between Interface, a global manufacturer of carpet tiles,
and the Zoological Society of London, an international scientific, conservation and educational

The initiative empowers local community members to collect discarded fishing nets in rural coastal
areas in the Philippines and the nearby Bantayan Islands. The discarded nets are then sold back into
a global supply chain to be used as a material for carpet tiles.

This cross-sector initiative supports Interface’s goal to source 100% recycled material for its carpet
tiles, while also tackling the growing environmental problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the
world’s poorest coastal communities.

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