Impact management norms A shared logic for managing impacts on people and the planet
From 2016 to 2018, the Impact Management Project (IMP) convened a Practitioner Community of over 3,000 enterprises and investors to build global consensus on how we measure, improve and disclose our positive and negative impacts (otherwise known as “impact management”). The resulting consensus (or “norms”) provide a common logic to help enterprises and investors understand their impacts on people and the planet, so that they can reduce the negative and increase the positive. These resources migrated to Impact Frontiers following the IMP’s conclusion in 2021.
What is impact?
Impact is a change in an outcome caused by an organization. An impact can be positive or negative, intended or unintended.
An outcome is the level of well-being experienced by a group of people, or the condition of the natural environment, as a result of an event or action.
Impact management is the process of identifying the positive and negative impacts that an enterprise has on people and the planet, and then reducing the negative and increasing the positive.
The impact management norms are best thought of as building blocks.
If you are starting from scratch, you may want to build your impact management framework based on them. If you already have an impact management framework, you may want to use them as a checklist to ensure that you are not missing any essential elements.
Impacts of enterprises on people and the planet can be understood across five dimensions.
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Any enterprise – whether a large multinational, a small business or a non-profit – can manage its impact. The ABC of Enterprise Impact helps enterprises connect their impact goals to the five dimensions of impact.
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For investors, managing the impact of an investment, or a portfolio of investments, means taking into account the positive and negative impacts of the underlying enterprises/assets, as well as the investor’s own contribution. The IMP consensus identified four investor contribution strategies, or actions, by which investors can manage the impacts of their investments.
Impact classes bring together the five dimensions of enterprise impact and the four investor contribution strategies. They can be used to define boundaries within which comparisons of impact performance are likely to be possible and sensible.
For investors to play a greater role in addressing social and environmental challenges, impact management must leave its silo and integrate with financial management.