July 2020 | Field News & Resources
This page features this month's highlights, announcements, resources, and general news related to advancements in the impact investing field.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a proposal to revise the fiduciary standard for ERISA-governed retirement plans as they relate to ESG investing. If passed, these proposals are likely to have a significant negative impact on the development and adoption of ESG investing, which is often an essential component of impact investing strategy. Please submit comments by July 30 to ensure that your concerns are heard in the rule-making process. If you are an asset owner, please ask your assset managers to do the same. US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment has provided detailed insight into the process in the attached documents below.
- David Wood explores the role foundations play in shaping impact investing and calls for a more radical approach in their advocacy of investment in social impact. Dr. Wood, the director of the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard’s Hauser Institute for Civil Society, penned this op-ed in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
- MIE's Monique Aiken hosted an episode of Impact Alpha's Impact Briefing podcast, featuring a conversation with David Bank of Impact Alpha and Dawn Sherman of Native American Natural Foods. Monique will be hosting the podcast every other Friday — look out for future episodes.
Advancing Racial Equity
- History and Legacy: As the underwriters of American racism, the financial industry owes Black Americans a debt it can pay with reparations, which would help close the wealth gap and serve as a model for a nation struggling to reckon with racism, PolicyLink’s Angela Glover Blackwell and Michael McAfee argue in this New York Times op-ed. The destruction of Black neighborhoods decades ago cleared the way for future developers and new businesses and residents to amass wealth. This New York Times article documents how areas destroyed by civil unrest later became sites for luxury living.
- Investing in organizations led by BIPOC (funds, VC, small business, banks, investment management):
- Carla Harris speaks with Kesha Cash of the Impact America Fund and Diishan Imira, founder of Mayvenn, in this Morgan Stanley Access and Opportunity podcast. TechCrunch talks with eight Black investors on the intersection of race, tech, and funding.
- Black businesses are a $55 billion investment opportunity, Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, President and CEO at CapQE, writes in this NextBillion guest article.
- Netflix will allocate 2% of its cash on hand—with an initial outlay of up to $100 million—to banks and other financial institutions that directly support Black communities in the U.S., according to Variety.
- The asset management industry’s lack of diversity is costing investors money. According to a 2019 Knight Foundation analysis, women and minority-owned asset management firms are overrepresented among the highest performing managers, this Fortune article notes.
- Philanthropy deepens commitments to grantmaking in Black-Led organizations: George Soros’s Open Society Foundations will invest $220 million in efforts to achieve racial equality in America, according to The New York Times. The Lumina Foundation is setting aside $15 million over the next three years to help eradicate systemic racism.
- Examining assets and "owning what you own": This article delves into the way impact investors use various strategies to address racial injustice and to get companies and municipalities to operate more equitably, via The New York Times.
- Sustainability-linked bonds can play an important role in allocating capital toward COVID-19-related relief and recovery measures, according to this International Institute for Sustainable Development blog.
- To build back better after the pandemic, we must reconsider philanthropy and create a new kind of capitalism that's rooted in generosity and accountability, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, says in this Ted Talk.
Impact Investing Strategies and Dialogues
- Seattle Foundation is launching a new partnership with Realize Impact that enables philanthropists to make “recoverable grants,” a type of impact investment in which a nonprofit repays grants after a given period of time.
- Roy Swan discusses how the Ford Foundation uses grant capital, mission-related investments, and program-related investments to advance social, economic, and racial justice. The foundation’s director of mission investments spoke with Wharton School’s Social Impact Initiative podcast.
- Michael Tiedemann tells Barron’s that impact investing has become a magnet for new business for New York-based Tiedemann Advisors.
- Forbes speaks with Jim Sorenson, an early believer in microfinance, a serial entrepreneur, and first on the publication’s Impact 50 list.
- New Social Finance VPs Jackie Khor and Andrew Chen discuss the future of impact investing, in this Q&A posted on Medium. Related: Tracy Palandjian, Co-Founder and CEO of Social Finance, delves into Career Impact Bonds and more in this interview with the Business of Giving.
- Vermont Community Foundation announced $3.6 million in place-based mission investments focused on expanding access to affordable housing and strengthening the state’s agricultural sector.
- Greater Milwaukee Foundation will marshal $30 million for investment in the Milwaukee region's economic recovery.
- The Impact-Weighted Accounts Project, a research project by the Harvard Business School, the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing, and the Impact Management Project, puts forward a methodology for creating accounting statements that reflect a company's financial, social, and environmental performance.
Climate and Environment
- In this note, Rhodium Group assesses the employment impacts of legislation that would spend $107 billion on clean air, clean water, toxic waste cleanup, affordable housing, and energy assistance, which could support nearly 300,000 jobs each year over the next five years.
- The Forest Resilience Bond, an innovative public-private partnership developed by Blue Forest Conservation and the World Resources Institute, aims to scale financing for U.S. forest restoration.
Gender Lens Investing
- Project Sage 3.0, a new report on gender lens investing, by Wharton Social Impact’s Sandi Hunt and Catalyst at Large’s Suzanne Biegel, offers key findings on the current state of the field.