“The ETF has allowed us to engage corporations in discussions: what is your commitment to a diverse board, to supplier diversity, and so on,” Owens told MarketWatch. “With corporations that have funded us historically, the ETF has allowed us to step back and say, we thank you for your support, but the data shows this or that. It gives us credibility, takes away from the idea that the NAACP can be paid off.” The match between ImpactShares and the NAACP came courtesy of the Innovative Finance team at the Rockefeller Foundation, which has funded ImpactShares, as well.
Lorenzo Bernasconi, that group’s managing director, also applauds the advocacy that the index framework permits, but thinks the ETF can unlock even more opportunity. “We face a whole set of large environmental and social challenges which government and philanthropy cannot address alone,” Bernasconi said. “The ETF builds on two major trends in capital markets: an interest in impact investing and a shift toward passive investments.”