Welcome to your roundup – a monthly selection of news hand-picked to keep you up to date with what’s going on for businesses wanting to create positive impact.

In this roundup you can find out what’s new in the B Corp, Social Enterprise, Impact investing, ESG and EDI spaces, amongst others, collated under helpful headings. We’ll also share links to resources and information that our expert lawyers have selected as being useful to you and your networks.  

Jump to:

Corporate Purpose

B Corps

Social Enterprise

Impact Investing

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED)

ESG

Corporate Purpose

In its new policy paper, the Institute of Directors calls for a high-level working group to draft a voluntary code of conduct for directors, covering topics including ‘Responsible Business’, with description of how directors should: define the business’ purpose, evaluate board decisions in a broad social context and be conscious of the impact on society and the environment, and exercise supply chain due diligence and strive to eliminate labour exploitation and modern slavery (press release).

Positive, an organisation that aims to empower changemakers to co-create solutions for an equitable economy, has published The Positive Compass: a set of 5 toolkits intended to help businesses assess their practices and move closer to creating regenerative impact. The toolkit topics are: purpose, planet, people, partners and places, and the methodology document summarises the process.

A longer read – BEIS has published Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance: Government response to the consultation on strengthening the UK’s audit, corporate reporting and corporate governance systems. The report sets out plans for the new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) to have powers to drive improvements in audit quality, including through the registration of auditors to ‘public interest entities’, and enforce directors’ corporate reporting and audit-related duties. The plans also include changes to reporting requirements, and bring some large unlisted and private business into ARGA’s remit (press release and landing page).  

B Corps

How B Corp status might revolutionise football. Bates Wells’ Louise Harman and Benjamin Thomas consider the opportunities available in applying the B Corp model to the football governance landscape, in light of new momentum for change following the recent Crouch Review.

B Lab Global has published its 2021 Annual Report, describing the growth of the movement, the ongoing development of its standards, its policy work, and the relationships it has forged with other organisations working in this space.

Systems Change Through Business-Led Policy Advocacy. B Lab US & Canada hosted a policy discussion, ‘Business for Good: Speaking Up For Systems Change’, during the recent Shift 2022 Virtual Impact Summit. The 3 panellists, from purposeful businesses, discussed resources and examples that could help businesses of any size to use their public platforms to shape policy, with a particular emphasis on including people from marginalised groups.

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise UK has published a series of reports exploring the state of social enterprise across 9 English regions, with support from Big Society Capital and Access – the Foundation for Social Investment (landing page). The reports consider a variety of issues, including: the proportion of start-ups in the regions, turnover, the diversity of leadership teams, and confidence in the sector, and encourage various stakeholders to integrate learnings from this research into their activities. 

The British Council and Social Enterprise UK have published a new report, More in common: the global state of social enterprise, which describes the world’s social enterprise landscape and finds that social enterprise is one of the largest movements of our time. For more, Pioneers Post provides a breakdown of the report.

The World Economic Forum has published Unlocking the Social Economy Towards an inclusive and resilient society, in collaboration with Deloitte, and in partnership with Catalyst 2030, Euclid Network, Motsepe Foundation and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. The report sets out recommendations to governments for developing the social economy, and for bringing its principles and approach into mainstream business, to help tackle the world’s most urgent crises (landing page).

Use “precious” Dormant Assets to grow business in communities, says new coalition. Nine UK social economy organisations, including Social Enterprise UK and Big Society Capital, are urging government to back a new ‘Community Enterprise Growth Plan’ to grow enterprise with social purpose in underserved places and communities, in light of the upcoming consultation on the use of Dormant Assets.

Impact Investing

Outcomes For All: 10 Years of Social Outcomes Contracts is a new report from Big Society Capital (BSC) looking at how, over the last decade, the Social Outcomes Contracts market has grown and created value for individuals facing complex social issues. Headline findings include that every £1 spent by commissioners has generated £10.20 of public value (press release and landing page). The report draws on BSC’s own data, information provided by market participants, and independent analysis conducted by ATQ Consultants, and is intended to support meaningful discussions around the potential of (SOCs) in delivering public services.

The Growth Impact Fund, a social investment fund focused on tackling inequality and promoting racial justice in the UK, has officially launched with £10m committed by investors. Co-Chair of the Fund’s new Impact Advisory Group, Katie Naeve, shares details of the Fund’s guiding principles on diversity, equity, and inclusion targets and wider impact goals, for the fund’s work with social businesses.

The Impact Management Platform, a collaborative initiative by leading providers of public good standards and guidance on sustainability impact management, has published new materials to help investors and financial institutions manage their sustainability impacts (announcement).

Consultation – The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has published for consultation draft guidance by its Listed Equities Working Group that is designed to help asset owners assess fund offerings invested in capital markets, as part of their specific impact investment goals (working group page). 

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Talking to LGBTQIA-Led B Corps About Practicing Inclusion and Building Credibility All Year Long. B Lab writes for B The Change, arguing the need to go beyond Pride month celebrations to holistically integrating LGBTQIA+ visibility and inclusion into the way a company treats its stakeholders, whilst also recognising the impact of intersectional identity aspects.

Women on boards: deal to boost gender balance in companies. A provisional agreement has been reached on draft legislation that aims to ensure gender parity on the boards of publicly listed companies in the EU, through introducing transparent recruitment procedures that enable a minimum of 40% of non-executive director posts, or 33% of all director posts, to be occupied by the under-represented sex. 

People and culture discussion: Celebrating women every day, and social causes at the heart of business. Bates Wells hosts a regular forum for Human Resources professionals at fellow B Corps. This short report summarises learnings from the recent spring meeting, at which participants discussed what organisations can do to better support women and the role that men can play in this, and what social causes are key to business and how to measure impact. For more from Bates Wells, Paul Seath and Paul Jennings share their thoughts on approaches to internal dispute resolution that ensure purpose-driven values remain ingrained in the workplace, and manage legal risk.

ESG

What ESG lessons can businesses learn from impact investing firms? Bates Wells’ Partner, Nirav Patel, considers what impact investing ESG concepts businesses can adopt, and how ESG is relevant in corporate investments and M&A.

The FRC has updated its Guidance on the Strategic Report to include (among other items) guidance for boards on identifying climate-related financial risks and opportunities, in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations (press release and landing page).

A provisional political agreement between the EU Council and Parliament has been reached on rules for corporate sustainability reporting (Council press release). The new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) aims to make businesses more accountable by obliging them to disclose their social and environmental impacts, to help end greenwashing and create a foundation for global sustainability reporting standards. The EU Parliament and Council will have to formally approve the agreement before it is published in the EU Official Journal.

The University of Nottingham and De Montfort University have published a new report, Fashioning a beautiful future?, which identifies risk factors for labour exploitation in the Leicester garment industry, and was commissioned by the Garment & Textile Workers Trust set up by fashion company, boohoo Group. The report provides several recommendations and considers case studies, including noting the potential role of cooperative structures in improving standards for garment workers. For more, the BBC reports on the publication.

Webinar – Greening our finances: how can business support people to take action? 6 July 2022. Bates Wells’ Partner, Stephanie Biden, will be speaking on a panel for Money Movers, looking at the role of business in empowering customers, employees and citizens to make more sustainable financial choices and invest in a climate-positive future.

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