Investors Should Back Disruptive Tech to Make Positive Social Impact – Sir Ronald Cohen

Bolstering worldwide education and healthcare through innovation key to addressing social issues and wider goal of a just transition.

Disruptive technology has a big part to play in addressing global social issues, such as unequal access to healthcare and education, according to Sir Ronald Cohen, Chair of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) and Co-Founder of Apax Partners.

“There are millions of people across the world who are either in or out of school and not learning, and more at risk due to lack of access to adequate healthcare. I would love to see investors backing disruptive technologies that will boost our ability to educate and heal,” he said during his webinar discussion with Dame Elizabeth Corley, Chair of the Impact Investing Institute.

Regarded as a vanguard of the global impact investing revolution, Cohen added that disruptive technology can have a positive impact on social issues beyond just education and healthcare. He noted that investors can “pick a sector they are passionate about and make a difference in this way”.

However, social issues have been brought the fore due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

For example, a recent report by Calvert Research and Management identified the systemic racism and inequality exposed in the healthcare system.

A study by the World Benchmarking Alliance’s (WBA) Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) unit showed that low quality human rights disclosures reflected the poor treatment of workers by corporates throughout the pandemic, particularly within supply chains.

Corley, formerly CEO of Allianz Global Investors, argued that investing in sustainability-focused technologies is part of the bigger movement to ‘building back better’ with a greener, more sustainable economy.

“The investable theme [the Impact Investing Institute] is looking at in collaboration with the Grantham Research Institute is the idea of a ‘just transition’,” Corley said.

For every ‘green action’ geared towards building a net-zero emissions green economy, there are positive or negative social consequences, she noted, such as job re-skilling or re-scaling, which can lead to stranded communities of workers that are frozen out due to these radical sustainable changes.

The Impact Investing Institute is partnering with key industry associations and professional bodies, such as CFA UK and the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) to deliver educational events and materials on best practices in impact investing.

“Investors should be conscious of enabling a just transition by making sure they are aiding corporates in their transitional responsibilities. We need to do the right thing, but in the right way,” Corley said.

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