The Impact Economy Brief | 4 September

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

Our ‘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:

“Co-Operative or Co-Op”

Editor’s Pick

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

Making Sustainability Count is a ‘Spotlight Series’ of articles from Harvard Business Review, including: ‘Social-Impact Efforts That Create Real Value’ by Harvard Business School’s Prof. George Serafeim, and ‘The Board’s Role in Sustainability’ by authors from Oxford’s Saïd Business School, including Profs. Robert G. Eccles and Colin Mayer. These articles discuss how sustainability strategy and corporate purpose can create real value, by reference to a range of current examples, initiatives and research findings.

Impact Business

The ethical and sustainable B Corp brands you need to know about. The Independent writes about B Corp certification, and shares an inspirational list of B Corps producing a range of consumer goods.

A longer read – Enacting Purpose Within the Modern Corporation – A Framework for Boards of Directors is a new publication from the Enacting Purpose Initiative (EPI), a collaboration between Oxford’s Saïd Business School, Berkeley Law, The British Academy and others. The Framework aims to help boards enact and govern corporate purpose, by providing guidance based on cross-disciplinary research. For more, Prof. Robert G. Eccles, EPI Co-Chair, provides context in his article for Forbes.

Podcast – In Alan Jope is Doubling Down the hosts of Outrage+Optimism talk to Unilever’s CEO about the business’ 100+ year old socially-conscious origin, and how he’s working to accelerate the business’ journey of achieving greater sustainability and the UN SDGs (SpotifyGoogleApple).

Webinar – What if business could help solve the greatest problems of our time? 10 September 2020. Purposeful business charity, Blueprint for Better Business, will be hosting Rebecca Henderson, author and professor at Harvard Business School, in conversation with Charles Wookey, Blueprint’s CEO. They’ll be discussing Henderson’s new book, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, and exploring Blueprint’s work in the UK and what companies are doing.

Webinar – Meaningful Business and the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice are partnering on a campaign exploring topics around business advocacy for criminal justice issues. This will culminate in a Business For Justice Webinar on 29 September 2020, featuring speakers from JP Morgan Chase, Ben & Jerry’s and Lush.

How can we drive societal change in a pandemic? Unlocking ways to transform society’s obstacles is at the heart of the Stephen Lloyd Awards. Due to COVID 19 and the difficulties with continuing with the original process, there is now a revised timetable for the postponed 2020 Awards. If you have an innovative solution to transform society, please click here to learn how to confirm or revise an existing application or to make a new application. (The Stephen Lloyd Awards are an initiative of the Bates Wells Foundation, charity reg. number 1150321.)

Impact Investment

Social Investment Business (SIB) has published the data and learnings from the Futurebuilders England Fund, a £142m government-backed social investment fund for loan financing to social sector organisations to help them bid for and deliver public service contracts (press release). For more, SIB’s CEO, Nick Temple, writes for Pioneers Post about what can be learned from the data.

Everyone In: the opportunity for pension funds investing in social and affordable housing in the wake of COVID-19. Big Society Capital’s Karen Ng, Investment Director, and Katie Fulford-Smith, Engagement Manager, set out the case for institutional investment into housing that tackles homelessness, in light of the government’s ‘Everyone In’ pandemic scheme.

Why busting the fiduciary duty myth is our top priority. The Impact Investing Institute’s Chief Executive, Sarah Gordon, writes for Pioneers Post, introducing the Institute’s 5 guiding principles developed to help the discussion among pension trustees and others about incorporating impact into governance, processes and investment decisions.

Consultation – Taking action on climate risk: improving governance and reporting by occupational pension schemes. The UK government is seeking views on proposed requirements for larger occupational pension schemes and authorised schemes to address climate change risks and opportunities within their portfolios, through effective governance and risk management measures, and to disclose these in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. These requirements could include, for example, disclosing the carbon footprint of a pension scheme.

Investing in Social Good Is Finally Becoming Profitable. The New York Times considers the current positive performance trend in impact investing in the US, and discusses opinions about the drivers behind it.  

PRI and WBCSD join forces to drive corporate-investor action on sustainable development. Principles for Responsible Investment and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have announced a new partnership intended to encourage capital allocation towards sustainable business by improving the supply and use of sustainability-related information. This is to be achieved by facilitating direct conversations between investors and business, and providing recommendations and guidance on the integration of sustainability in corporate and investor decision-making.

A longer read – 10 circular investment opportunities and 4 key roles for policymakers. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published the final instalment in its series of papers on circular economy investment. The series explores opportunities across five key sectors (built environment; mobility; plastic packaging; fashion; and food), and concludes with a final paper on the role of policymakers in achieving a resilient post-pandemic recovery through the circular economy.

Legal and Regulatory

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is a collaborative effort from the CEE Bill Alliance, supported by a number of academics, scientists, legal experts, businesses and public figures, and which is intended for introduction into the parliamentary process this month as a Private Members’ Bill. The Bill aims to put in place an emergency strategy to ensure that the UK’s emissions are consistent with limiting average global temperatures to 1.5°C, and conserve and restore the natural world (Executive Summary and Briefing).

Consultation – Due diligence on forest risk commodities. Building on the recommendations of the Global Resource Initiative taskforce, the government is consulting on a proposed new law to prohibit larger businesses operating in the UK from using products grown on land that was deforested illegally, and require supply chain due diligence to identify whether ‘forest risk’ commodities have been produced according to local laws protecting forests and ecosystems. Businesses failing to comply would be subject to fine. (Press release, and the BBC reports on the proposal.)

The Chartered Governance Institute has updated its publication Directors’ general duties under the Companies Act 2006 – Guidance Note with a new section on s.172 reporting requirements, providing guidance on what these directors’ statements may need to cover (press release). (You may need to log in to the Institute’s website to access the document.)

One million employee and worker owners by 2030 is a joint response from the Employee Ownership Association and Cooperatives UK to the government’s 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review. The response sets out the social and economic benefits of employee ownership, and includes a proposal that £10m be allocated to support up to 20 Combined Authorities or Local Enterprise Partnerships to participate in the new Ownership Hub programme, designed to increase awareness of employee ownership and provide expert support to aid the voluntary adoption of such models. For more, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, Deb Oxley, provides some context in her blog.

A second revised draft of the Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the Activities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises has been published by the UN Human Rights Council’s open-ended intergovernmental working group. For more, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has updated its Binding Treaty resource page, which tracks the progress of the working group and collates materials and commentary on the subject.


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 September 4, 2020.