In 2020, an initiative began to trial a new approach to understanding what policy activity is happening across the ‘Impact Economy’; a term used to describe the ecosystem of commercial activities and actors that integrate social and environmental impact into the pursuit of profit. This work has been conducted by Shirah Z Mansaray, a PhD candidate at University College London on secondment to Bates Wells, and Phillippa Holland, the Purpose & Impact Knowledge Lawyer at Bates Wells. 

Shirah has created an interactive tool that provides a visual representation of policy initiatives across the Impact Economy landscape. This ‘Impact Economy Mapping Tool’ (the “Mapping Tool”) presents over 40 rigorously selected policy initiatives that aim to develop this space, categorised under the following broad themes:

  • Purpose-driven business
  • Stakeholder capitalism
  • The development of the concept and practice of fiduciary duty in this context
  • Impact measurement and reporting, and
  • Responsible investment and impact investing.

In addition, the initiatives in the Mapping Tool are broadly mapped against the Imperative 21 network’s ‘Imperatives for Economic System Change’,in order to ground the profusion of initiatives in this space with a centralising force, focused on stakeholder capitalism and corporate purpose-beyond-profit. The Imperatives are:

  • Design for interdependence
  • Invest for justice, and
  • Account for stakeholders.

The Mapping Tool forms the theoretical framework for the quasi-academic research paper entitled “The Impact Economy Policy Mapping Initiative: Mapping the policy landscape”. The research paper examines academic and industry-related evidence together with government studies, EU reports and policy reports. The paper aims to aid policy makers in understanding the development of the Impact Economy and the key themes reflected in this space. It also identifies clear recommendations and calls to action across this landscape, for stakeholders to address. The research paper is authored by Shirah and Phillippa in their capacities as an academic and an industry lawyer, respectively.

The goal of the Mapping Tool, and the accompanying research paper, is to recognise the network effect of policies in the Impact Economy landscape and underscore the need for greater collaboration and partnerships amongst all network actors. The focal themes of this work are the subject of global and, potentially, paradigm-shifting mainstream discourse around the purpose of business and investment in society. The authors’ hope is that, with on-going development and wider, community-led participation, the Mapping Tool could be developed further into an evolving resource for policy makers, and other stakeholders.

Read the summary of the research paper.

Access the full research paper.

Access the Impact Economy Mapping Tool.

Disclaimer: The authors have taken reasonable care to ensure that information referenced in these articles is accurate on the stated date of publication or last modification. The authors take no responsibility for the consequences of error or for any loss or damage suffered by readers of any of the information published (including by way of links to other webpages or documents) on any of these pages, and such information does not constitute, nor form any basis for, legal advice. The analysis and views expressed in the Mapping Tool, research paper and summary are those of the authors and not of University College London nor of Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP.