The Impact Economy Brief | 11 October

Welcome to the latest edition of Bates Wells’ Impact Economy Brief.

Our fortnightly ‘Brief’ is intended to be a helpful reference point and resource for our network, providing an overview of activity in the Impact Economy. You won’t be surprised to see that we’ve taken a particular interest in legal and regulatory developments.  

We hope you find the Brief to be a valuable digest of the things you need to know, and invite you to tell us what you’d like to read more about.

Talk the Talk

As the language of the Impact Economy develops, we’ll add relevant terminology to our Impact Economy Glossary, to help share a common understanding. This week’s jargon is:

“Circular Economy”

Editor’s Pick

If you only have 5 minutes of quiet this week, we recommend…

New Initiative Builds on Benefit Corporation Experience to Expand Investors’ Stakeholder Approach. B the Change interviews Rick Alexander, B Lab’s first head of legal policy, author of “Pursuing Profit with Purpose” and B Lab Fellow, on his new initiative The Shareholder Commons, which aims to bring the ‘stakeholder interests’ approach to institutional investors. More about the thinking behind this initiative can be found here.

Impact Business

A longer read – The Impact Weighted Accounts Initiative, consisting of the Global Steering Group, the Impact Management Project and Harvard Business School, has launched its white paper Impact-Weighted Financial Accounts: The Missing Piece for an Impact Economy.

‘Rampant Consumerism Is Not Attractive.’ Patagonia Is Climbing to the Top — and Reimagining Capitalism Along the Way. Time interviews Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, and others about the company’s activism and initiatives that have been part of its reimagining of capitalism. (For more, Edie interviews Patagonia’s Director of Environmental Initiatives about the launch of the company’s Action Works digital community in Europe.)

Podcast – Conduit Conversations: Joey Zwillinger, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Allbirds discusses what it really means to build a successful, sustainable shoe brand, from sourcing innovative materials to dealing with copycat designs, and shares advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

A longer read – It’s Time To Talk About Scale is a new report from Big Society Capital on the benefits of scaling social enterprise in the UK and how to go about this (press release).

The National Social Value Awards 2020 are open for submissions until 20 November 2019, the results of which will be announced at the National Social Value Conference in January. The National Social Value Taskforce works to establish good practice in integrating the Social Value Act into the UK public sector and business community, and showcase best practice.

Impact Investment

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announces that BlackRock has become a global partner and, at a recent conference, BlackRock announced the launch of its first dedicated circular economy investment fund (reported by Edie).

Blog – Stars or strategies – who to back? The impact investment dilemma. Russell Hargrave, Media Manager at NPC, writes for the Pioneers Post/EVPA Impact Papers series about different investor approaches to assessing the importance of the people behind the venture.

‘Empty promises’ could pop bubble of investing for good. The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports on the call from impact investors at the recent Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) summit in Amsterdam, for a global standard to measure impact.

A longer read – The government has published Investing in a Better World, following a study into UK public demand for sustainable investment opportunities, particularly with the SDGs in mind, indicating high levels of interest and identifying barriers.  

Long-term matters: How capitalists can save the Amazon from capitalism. In IPE magazine, Raj

Thamotheram, Preventable Surprises, and John Fullerton, Capital Institute, consider the possibilities of a ‘Rapid Response-Able Fund’ initiative to invest for change, rather than divesting, and rebut key criticisms, including consideration of the recent Investor statement on deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon (press release).

Legal and Regulatory

A longer read – Understanding citizens’ views on the regulation of corporate reporting, corporate governance and auditis a new report on research commissioned by the FRC. The report sets out findings on how the public views businesses in general, as well as the concept of ‘purposeful companies’, and that the public believes that FRC should have more power to hold  companies and individuals to account without stifling innovation (press release).

The Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance has published its final report on EU Climate Benchmarks and Benchmarks’ ESG Disclosures (summary) as part of the EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance. The report will inform the preparation of delegated acts by the Commission in relation to the low-carbon benchmarks and positive-carbon-impact benchmarks regulation, agreed by the European Parliament and Member States in February.

Podcast – Making Privacy Law. This IRL podcast considers how Europe’s GDPR privacy law led to a large fine against Spain’s National Football League and is changing how Twitter works with personal data. It also discusses Microsoft’s call for legislators to go further on federal privacy law in the U.S, and talks to the California resident whose work led to the California Consumer Privacy Act.

More than 80 NGOs and trade unions are calling for a legislative framework to impose mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence obligations on companies operating in the EU (press release and list of signatories).

New rules are first step in ESG journey for trustees, says PLSA. The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association comments on the new requirements for pension trustees to set out, in their Statement of Investment Principles, how they take account of financially material factors including ESG factors and climate change.


If you’d like to speak to us about our work in the Impact Economy, please get in touch.

If you’d like to speak to us about the Brief, please contact our editor, Phillippa Holland.

Disclaimer – The information contained in this briefing is not intended to be a comprehensive update – it is our selection of third party reports, news, podcasts and other materials, as well as some content produced by Bates Wells where indicated as such, which we think will be of interest to those working in the Impact Economy. This content is necessarily of a general nature; it does not constitute advice, and specific advice should always be sought for specific situations.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of October 11, 2019.