The Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society serves as a research center on fundamental issues and theories underlying the ability of financial markets to promote wealth creation across asset classes, while creating a stronger society and a healthier environment. The IRI accomplishes its mission by developing and presenting original research, providing a platform for dialogue, and taking practical action around issues of importance to the responsible investment community.
Read more about the work of the IRI in our 2014 Annual Report here.
The IRI was founded in 2004 with the guidance of Founding Director Steve Lydenberg, then Chief Investment Officer of Domini Social Investments. At this time, the IRI’s primary purpose was to hold events to spur thinking and action on responsible investment. Participants at the first conference, held in November 2003, debated the best means for responsible investors to increase their ability to recognize and support mergers and acquisitions that are likely create long-term value, and oppose those that are not.
In 2005 the IRI hired David Wood as Executive Director and its first full-time staff member. From that point forward, the IRI moved from organizing occasional meetings to publication of research in a range of topics, including investor use of non-financial information, funding mechanisms for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), responsible investment across asset classes, and corporate social reporting. As part of its work, the IRI co-founded, with Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona, the Responsible Property Investming (RPI) Center; through this the IRI has conducted intensive research and network building in the emerging field of RPI.
In 2008, the IRI started the More for Mission Campaign Resource Center, a resource for foundation endowments who seek opportunities to align their financial investments with their institutional mission. As of 2012, More for Mission is the Mission Investors Exchange.
In 2010, the IRI and InSight at Pacific Community Ventures developed the Global Impact Investing Policy Project (GIIP), which aimed to explore the intersection of public policy and impact investing and develop a network of researchers and public policymakers interested in the field. The project has released two papers thus far: Impact Investing: A Framework for Policy Design and Analysis (2011) and Impact at Scale: Policy Innovation for Institutional Investment with Social and Environmental Benefit (2012). Future research will focus on sustainable cities and social enterprises in the U.S.
In 2011, the IRI started the Trustee Leadership Forum for Retirement Security to work with trustees of public pension funds on responsible investment.
Today, the IRI’s research agenda includes a portfolio of projects from working to develop a theory of responsible investment to examining the intersection of public policy and impact investing through GIIP, analyzing the challenges and future of community investment through focuses on the supply of community investment capital and the ability of particular places to effectively utilize such capital, supporting the growth of mission investing for foundations through research on challenges and opportunities, and researching the intricacies of responsible investment for pension funds and pension fund trustees. The IRI also has continuing work regarding the development of responsible investment curriculum, a Convening Series to promote investigation of topics facing responsible investment not currently covered by its research agenda, and documenting corporate social responsibility reporting requirements globally.