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September 05, 2013

Global Impact Investing Network Publishes Guide to ESG Metrics for Investors
    by Robert Kropp

The Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) is a set of metrics designed to evaluate both a corporation's financial performance and its environmental, social, and governance impacts. -- The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), a membership organization for impact investors, has published a guide for investors seeking to utilize its Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS).

IRIS, which since 2009 has been developed by the GIIN, provides metrics across industry sectors and geographical regions that provide investors and fund managers with credible data about the social and environmental impacts of their investments.

In 2011, when the first IRIS Data Report was published, a network of investors wrote, “We believe that a common framework for social and environmental reporting is necessary to reduce inefficiency, increase comparability, and facilitate performance benchmarking and other analyses that support investment decision-making.”

“By aggregating performance data from a diverse set of organizations receiving impact investment capital, the IRIS initiative has demonstrated the early traction of the standards,” the letter continued. “Additionally, the initial analyses included in the report concretely demonstrate the potential to establish an expansive and compelling evidence base of impact investment performance.”

Included among the signatories to the letter were representatives from the Calvert Foundation, Generation Investment Management, and the National Community Investment Fund.

The new guide, according to the GIIN, is designed to help investors and fund managers select and apply the more than 400 social, environmental, and financial performance metrics from the IRIS catalog. “By using IRIS metrics to measure and report their results, impact investors increase transparency, credibility, and accountability for their own activities and for the market as a whole,” the organization stated.

“Impact measurement is fast becoming a best practice in impact investing, reflecting a shift in attitudes among investors who, as recently as a few years ago, often saw social and environmental performance measurement as optional,” said Luther Ragin, Jr., CEO of the GIIN. “We are particularly pleased to see so many investors make use of the standardized metrics in IRIS, which increase credibility and enable important analyses such as performance benchmarking.”

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