When certain social themes are cross-cutting and understood to influence the impact outcomes of almost all investments, across multiple sectors, they rise to the level of providing a “lens”. This is particularly the case when certain power dynamics and investment biases are obscured. Sample lenses in impact investing include the gender lens, racial equity lens, refugee lens, and now the child lens being introduced by UNICEF.
These lenses serve a number of useful purposes. They help to improve an investor’s prospects of creating real impact by making unseen injustices visible, they provide frameworks for more easily integrating critical social and environmental dimensions into the investment process, and they raise the bar on important core practices in impact investing, like measurement, target-setting, and stakeholder engagement.
Navigating impact lenses can also be very complicated, certainly for newcomers, but also for more experienced investors. When lenses have shared end goals, for example, they can be tactically applied in combination, helping to significantly deepen an investor’s impact by addressing the overlapping social and political identities that create unique states of disadvantage for beneficiaries, which is sometimes referred to as “intersectionality”.
In this important Tideline Compass Series discussion, we invite leading practitioners to discuss what it means to implement a particular lens, and how to navigate the practicalities, benefits, and difficulties of actioning multiple lenses.
Panelists Include: Erika Seth Davies – CEO, Rhia Ventures Tim Docking – CEO, Refugee Investment Network Caitlin Rosser – Director of Impact Management, Calvert Impact Joy Anderson – President and Founder, Criterion Institute Cristina Shapiro – President of the Impact Fund for Children and the Bridge Fund, UNICEF USA
Moderated By: Ben Thornley – Managing Partner, Tideline Jade Huynh – Associate, Tideline