“Most impact investors and most businesses work at the intentions, endeavors, and results levels, even when they are attempting to be socially responsible. They do not take into consideration how much more is possible, even for a small business.”

Sustainability in business requires major shifts in thinking from the tried and true methods of the past several centuries to a more planetary view. Businesses large and small can ill afford to ignore the global context in which they operate. In business as in nature, everything is connected.

For those who have been working in sustainability for a while, there is broad recognition that these efforts are not enough. Sustaining ourselves and our business continues to  tax our ecosystems beyond what the planet can sustain. Regenerative business addresses this deficit.

Evolution of impact investing

For investors, impact investment has come quite a long way. Socially responsible investment  (SRI) incentivized companies through the use of negative screens that diverted funds away from socially “harmful” goods and services. Tobacco and arms are two common negative screens. SRI also used positive screens to reward companies that provide ‘beneficial” goods and services such as Seventh Generation, a maker of eco-friendly cleaning products.

Regenerative impact investment takes seven levels as outlined in this article, to help investors identify and target levels of impact and what to look for when considering impact investment. Intention, endeavors, results, effects-industries, effects-social systems, effects-cultural paradigms and effects-governing agreements.

Intention, endeavors and results are common business practice. Those focused on sustainability spend a lot of time improving their results through their endeavors. If there is recognition of the need and willingness to do more, it is time for companies to focus on broader effects.

We enable change leadership. Sustainability is an area where we see leaders grappling with starting and/or sustaining efforts.  Get in touch if your company needs a journey partner to help you define broader impacts.

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