Processes and Principles

Processes and Principles

IRIS 4.0

In Q4 2015, IRIS users were invited to propose revisions to the next version of the IRIS metrics catalog, IRIS 4.0. All comments received are being reviewed by the IRIS secretariat at the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and final recommendations are being evaluated by the IRIS Advisory Committee. The final version of IRIS 4.0 is scheduled for release in early 2016.


The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), which oversees the IRIS initiative, has assembled a formal Advisory Body to support the ongoing development of the IRIS metrics catalog. The IRIS Advisory Body is comprised of leaders in impact investing and performance measurement/management with representatives from the different IRIS stakeholder groups including investors, other 3rd party standard providers, and industry networks.

Updates to the IRIS metrics catalog are released every two years, and include:

1. Upgrades to metrics focused on specific topic areas identified as priorities by the IRIS Advisory Body and other IRIS Stakeholders,

2. Updates and additions to the catalog based on sector-specific working groups

3. Upgrades to metrics originated by other standards bodies with which IRIS has a linkage,

4. Upgrades based on feedback submitted by IRIS users and various stakeholders, and

5. Enhancements of usage guidance that help clarify optimal use of metrics.

This review and update process enables the IRIS catalog to evolve in line with industry best practices, at the guidance of expert advisors, with input from users, and as partner taxonomies are updated.


The development of the IRIS catalog is managed in accordance with best practices for designing credible social and environmental metrics systems. The IRIS metrics development process adheres to the practices outlined in the principles below:

Stakeholder Engagement and Balance of Interests

The IRIS initiative develops metrics with the participation of multiple stakeholders. These stakeholders may be investors, investees, topic experts, representatives of other standard-setting bodies, or others with relevant domain expertise. While IRIS primarily serves the investor community, the IRIS initiative solicits inputs from individuals and organizations with a diverse set of interests. The IRIS Taxonomy Advisory Committee, a formal committee within the IRIS Advisory Body, provides guidance on the evolution of IRIS metrics. The IRIS initiative also engages working groups to provide expertise in specific topic areas. The recommendations developed by the working groups are reviewed by the Taxonomy Advisory Committee, IRIS users, and other relevant stakeholders before being included in IRIS.

Public Comment and Meaningful Opportunities to Contribute

The IRIS website offers the public a forum in which to provide feedback on the metrics in the IRIS catalog. All comments with directive feedback or new metric suggestions are logged into a system and considered when the GIIN prepares a new release of the IRIS catalog.


The IRIS initiative is public about the metric development process and the individuals that are participants in IRIS working groups. Edits made to existing metrics are done through a 30+ day public comment period.  Anyone can access the draft version of catalog that clearly indicates which metrics have changed and the rationale for the change.  Registered users are emailed a customized file (both during the public comment period, and after the release of a new version) that shows any changes to the metrics that thyey have listed on the IRIS user registry.

Additive Value and Consistency with Other Frameworks

The IRIS initiative serves as a meta-standard, aggregating and building on relevant metrics from across the investing, development, and nonprofit fields, and leveraging 3rd party standards wherever possible to encourage participation in the metric development process.  In addition to the 3rd party standards with which IRIS has formal linkages, the catalog was built with shared expertise from dozens of other organizations and standards. These leveraged frameworks provided the basis for metrics, definitions, and usage guidance for the IRIS Catalog.

Metric Structure

IRIS metrics are designed and structured to ensure that they reflect data that is feasible to collect, decision-relevant, and useful for aggregate analysis.