“It is a myth that you cannot have financial returns as well as social impact.”
CEO of the Impact Investing Institute, Sarah Gordon, joined our panel discussion at Montfort Conversations.
Montfort Communications’ recent breakfast roundtable debated, ‘Doing good can do no reputational harm, right? Purpose-washing and how to avoid it.’
Sarah Gordon discussed the dangers and solutions to ‘social investment for the sake of it.’ Impact investing is at the centre of a wider movement towards more responsible investing, and has the potential to radically change the way we think and invest. But how should businesses avoid the accusation of ‘purpose washing’ and failing to deliver on their promises?
Over the last decade society has made greater demand on businesses to demonstrate their good corporate citizenship. This has spawned the ‘social purpose’ industry as companies make powerful statements about their mission, and the values they bring to society, spurred on by the Impact Investing Institute calling for more collaboration to challenge and change the social contract and promote more socially conscious ways to use savings and investments while still realising financial returns.
The Impact Investing Institute launched at the end of 2019 with a mandate to grow genuine social investment within mainstream finance. Montfort supported the launch led by its new CEO Sarah Gordon, the former Business Editor of the Financial Times, by contributing time and ideas and providing strategic guidance as the institute seeks to engage with key capital holders.
Sarah Gordon, CEO – Impact Investing Institute commented, “Montfort has been instrumental in providing the team with valuable input and introducing us to a diverse and influential network of contacts. We are very grateful for the professional and enthusiastic pro bono support in the run-up to the launch and beyond.”
To guard against purpose washing, the institute has started to mobilise a wide variety of its stakeholders ranging from large pension funds through to asset managers and individual savers, stimulating interest in the concept of investing with genuine purpose. This is prompting mainstream fund managers to develop new and innovative products. But what would help open the tap so that the capital flowed at an even faster rate for even greater impact?
The Impact Investing Institute recently commissioned a report from Deloitte which suggested that progress in impact investing will fail to meet society’s global challenges unless there is significant collaborative action on reporting by key players. The momentum is there, but the Institute’s priority is to engage with the various stakeholder groups that can, and will, make a difference. Organisations and investors must work together to turn this vision into reality.