What does ESG even stand for? How does it differ from Impact Investing? What does it all mean? What does it look like in practice? Today’s impressive guest and dear friend will shine a light on all of these questions and more. Beata Kirr is a Managing Director and Chief Impact Officer at Chicago-based The Copia Group, an innovative new company that provides growth capital in the form of private credit to women and ethnically diverse-owned businesses. Their focus is on companies with revenue between $5-150 million, which are the true engine of the economy. Prior to Copia, Beata was the Co-CEO of a huge private wealth businesses managing over $100 billion, including leading the creation and allocation to all purpose-driven investment strategies (and before that, we were colleagues at Goldman Sachs!). As you can see, you’ve got a real guru to explain these topics to you in what I promise is a very assessable manner.


Simplistically, ESG tends to be backwards looking for assessing and reporting risk, while Impact Investing is forward looking and intentional – looking at how capital can have an impact beyond financial measures to drive measurable change (comment from the peanut gallery (me): and impact beyond superficial greenwashing PR stunts). For the recipient of impact capital, the money is material to achieving specific goals. Beata explains her three “-alities,” intentionality, additionality, and materiality as key criteria. We then explored an exemplary company in this milieu, Patagonia, which also happens to be one of my favorite brands on the planet. That’s partially due to the internal and external cultures they’ve created through their mission, values, people strategy, product supply chain, and philanthropy. Tune in to hear about their brainchild, 1% for the Planet, as well as the unique restructuring they recently accomplished to align their corporate structure to their core values. Inspiring is an understatement.


Lastly, we had a vibrant discussion about the shift from E (environmental) to S (social) that we’re currently seeing within ESG. Social isn’t just about diversity and inclusion of gender, ethnicity, and other traditional measures. Today, it also involves addressing income gaps, crafting employee cultures of psychological safety, and speaking out consistently and transparently about relevant social issues. For organizations who desire to move toward more purposeful impact, a few of the many suggestions Beata offered include knowing and living by your values, having constructive conflict protocols, setting up an anonymous complaints system, and offering differentiated and modern benefits such as secondary caregiver benefits.


Even if you’re not directly involved in the ESG or Impact world as an organization or investor, this episode is important for all human beings who care about the world.

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