We are pleased to welcome Clare Wang, associate professor of accounting at Leeds, as CESR’s new Research Director. In this role, she will collaborate with the CESR team to help build stronger connections with faculty across divisions at Leeds, and will support the development of thought leadership in our three focus areas: Business Solutions to Environmental Challenges, Diversity and Inclusion, and Ethical Leadership. Wang is deeply interested in this role not only because thought leadership on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is of strategic importance for Leeds, but also because understanding the significance of Environmental, Social and Governance considerations (ESG) as measures of sustainability and social impact is critical in today’s business world. Wang points to the Business Roundtable August 2019 statement where prominent CEOs committed to serving the interests of all stakeholders and not just shareholders, as an inflection point. She sees the unprecedented events of 2020 as having further underscored the role CSR will continue to play as business leaders confront the most pressing challenges of our times. All that is to say she is very interested in this area.
While many people think accounting is about your tax returns or company financial statements, Wang says on a more fundamental level, accounting is really about how meaningful information is measured and communicated. She describes accounting as a skill set that helps business leaders solve problems and make decisions, and she points out that increasingly, measures of accountability that may not necessarily show up on standard financial statements have taken on much greater importance.
One area Wang has researched is impact investing. She is interested in whether investors’ behavior is affected by business commitments to CSR. To analyze this, Wang has investigated the relation between certain measures of firms’ ESG performance and their financial performance. Another recent research project has been looking at how individual investors react to firms’ ESG-related press releases. Her research raises questions about how companies can most effectively communicate their social impact to help put CSR front and center in investors' minds. It also underscores that CSR/ESG investment is ultimately about communicating a commitment to values beyond what may show up in the bottom line. Ultimately, Wang’s research helps us understand where we are today, and how to get where we need to go.
Wang says, of anywhere she has been, Leeds’ long-standing commitment to ESG stands out as forward thinking. She sees the position of CESR Research Director as an exciting way to support valuable research in this area being done across various disciplines by her colleagues.
Wang is also excited to get faculty more involved with CESR, and help raise the visibility and recognition of the important research her colleagues are doing. One easy way for faculty to engage with CESR is through the newsletter. She wants all division chairs to know that if there are faculty working on anything related to the mission of CESR to be in touch with her and with CESR so that we can provide resources and promote the research.
Learn more about research from Leeds faculty members we’ve profiled in past articles including Sabrina Volpone and Peter McGraw.