Dr. Cort works at the intersection of sustainability and investor value. Over the course of 15 years, in consulting and academia, he has applied a scientific and economic lens to corporate social and environmental responsibility (or sustainability) in order to identify the tools, mechanisms, metrics and indicators that create the greatest value for investors, businesses and society.
Businesses and investors today face a particular challenge when it comes to sustainability and corporate responsibility. We know that awareness and performance in sustainability writ large correlates to better financial performance, but we cannot yet tell which aspects of sustainability drive this improvement. Meanwhile, the sustainability industry is moving quickly toward higher levels of mandatory reporting of sustainability metrics in various forms across the globe in order to provide comparable metrics within and across sectors. Comparable metrics are critical to the policy decisions that need to made to address global sustainability challenges. To date, the selection of the ‘best metrics’ have been driven in large part through consensus building across stakeholder groups.
Dr. Cort’s research into metrics is based on the premises that businesses will voluntarily adopt metrics that can be shown to drive improved financial performance and that proof of this relationship must stem from scientific and economic analysis, not only consensus opinion. Therefore, Dr. Cort is testing the relationship between sustainability metrics and financial performance through a variety of causal pathways (such as risk management, reputation protection, license to operate, regulatory resilience, talent and recruiting, etc).
In parallel with this metrics research, Dr. Cort is testing whether our current obsession and drive to produce corporate responsibility (or sustainability) reports has actually been distracting society and businesses from making meaningful progress against our common objectives. While these reports appear to have driven some incremental improvement against sustainability challenges, this research is testing whether these same reports are hindering businesses from focusing on the most material issues, allowing avoidance of the most significant challenge and trapping companies into cycles of incremental change when transformative models are now required.
Dr. Cort is a Lecturer at the Yale School of Management and Faculty Co-Director for the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY). He holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and over 15 years experience in global corporate settings advising on sustainability matters including metrics, risk management and auditing practices.