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GIIN seeks feedback on impact investing in listed equities guidelines

Published: 21 June 2022

GIIN has opened a public comment period for its upcoming guidelines for impact investing in listed equities. Separately, the organisation has added new impact themes to its IRIS+ system, including racial equity

Despite increased interest in impact investing, questions remain about how investors can implement impact strategies when investing in listed equities | Photo by phongphan5922 on iStock

In brief

  • Despite increased interest in impact investing, questions remain about implementing impact strategies when investing in listed equities
  • The GIIN has released draft guidelines on the topic, as it is inviting the investment community to share their feedback
  • Consultation period runs until 29 August
  • In separate news, the GIIN has added six new impact themes to its IRIS+ system: racial equity, gender, healthcare, sustainable agriculture, clean energy and biodiversity

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has opened a public comment period for its upcoming paper titled Impact in Listed Equities- Guidance for Investors.  

As interest in impact investing grows, questions remain about how investors can implement impact strategies when investing in listed companies. he purpose of this public consultation is to gather feedback from different stakeholders in the investment community. 

Over the last couple of years, a working group of leading asset owners and managers, brought together by the GIIN, reviewed different strategies for achieving impact in listed equities and surfaced examples of current practices. The initial thoughts of this working group were captured in a report titled Impact Investing in Listed Equities: Strategies for Pursuing Impact.

The draft guidelines presented last week for public consultation are the result of the working group efforts, and have been designed to help asset owners better distinguish the differences between fund offerings in relation to their specific impact goals.  

Announcing the launch of the of the draft guidelines, Sean Gilbert, chief investor network officer at the GIIN, said that as the industry moves to respond to investors’ increased interest in impact investing “it’s important that products live up to their promise and that impact strategies are truly differentiated from other investment strategies”.

He added: “With its decade of experience championing impact investing, the GIIN’s draft guidance will help the financial services industry better identify what to look for in strategies that pursue impact in listed equities.”

The GIIN is inviting public comment until 29 August, 2022. Interested parties can find more information about the draft guidelines and how to share their feedback here

Six investment themes added to IRIS+ system 

In separate news, the GIIN has added six new or updated investment themes to its IRIS+ system. The new themes are racial equity, gender, healthcare, sustainable agriculture, clean energy, and biodiversity.

These expand by a third the number of themes developed as part of the industry body’s work with experts in relevant fields to identify best practices, research, and recommended metrics for the IRIS+ system, which allows investors to measure, manage, and optimise their impact. 

The GIIN says the impact themes aim to empower investors with an “on-ramp” that enables them to employ cutting-edge impact tools to measure progress towards their own impact goals. The new themes can be accessed, along with others, on the GIIN website.  

Lissa Glasgo, director, IRIS+ and impact measurement and management at the GIIN, told a launch webinar for the new themes that the biodiversity theme covers ecosystems on land and water and nature-based solutions, while the sustainable agriculture theme builds on biodiversity issues, as well as covering food security, climate resilience. The green energy theme covers all major parts of the energy cycle, she said. 

PolicyLink, a US institute advancing racial and economic equity, collaborated closely with GIIN on developing the racial equity theme and integrating equity considerations across Iris+ themes in general.  

Mahlet Getachew, PolicyLink’s managing director, corporate racial equity and legal, said the launch of the racial equity theme was a milestone in efforts to embed equity in investment strategies, because it turned the lens inward to ensure investors held themselves accountable for achieving equitable outcomes in all aspects of their work. 

“The key takeaway from the new racial equity theme is that all investments should have equitable impacts, racial equity, it’s not a niche investment approach. It is not meant to be ‘a la carte’. This launch matters because we need a new normal for all investors to intentionally integrate racial equity awareness and action in their investment strategies, portfolio decisions and evaluation of their return on investment,” she told the webinar. 

To develop the new and updated themes, the GIIN also collaborated with CapEQ, Criterion Institute, the Center for Health Market Innovations in Results for Development, Croatan Institute, Sustainable Finance Institute, WWF-Netherlands, and Arcadis. The organisation says it has worked with over 1,600 stakeholders in total to develop IRIS+. 

GIIN intends to add a climate adaptation and resilience theme to IRIS+ as a next step, with others to follow.  

The organisation has also been expanding the ability of the Iris+ system to provide readily accessible benchmarks that investors can use to compare their impact performance against UN sustainable development goals and eventually against each other’s impact performance.   

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