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ESG Designation Program


ESG Designation Program

12 Sessions

1.5 hours per session




Prepare for the next decade of decision-making

Get the insights that you need to provide oversight and foresight on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities. Our program will equip you with the tools and confidence that all board members, investors and executives require to make effective decisions.

Our best-in-class program closely examines a wide range of ESG topics. Over the 12 sessions these will include climate change, human rights, and supply chain; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); cybersecurity, disclosures, taxation, executive pay, anti corruption and stakeholder engagement.

Our more than two dozen global faculty leaders are experts in their fields. You will engage with them on real-life scenarios in live interactive discussions that bring a global viewpoint to your education. 

By the end of our program, you will have the leading-edge knowledge that investors, nomination committees and recruiters are seeking, with a robust and invaluable network of new peers.

Our many session leaders include:

Helle Bank Jorgensen

Competent Boards programs are designed and led by Helle Bank Jorgensen, a 30 year ESG veteran and author of Stewards of the Future: A Guide for Competent Boards. Helle is a member of the Nasdaq Center for Board Excellence’s Sustainability & ESG Insights Council; the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network for Corporate Governance, Leadership, and Emerging Multinationals; and HRH Prince of Wales A4S (Accounting for Sustainability) Global Expert Panel.

Helle Bank Jorgensen

Program streams

Cohorts are divided into two streams, board members and Business leaders.

Though the content in both program streams is identical, occasionally speakers may change.

Board member

Board Members – this stream is for you if you are a non-executive director, an independent director, or an executive director of a company with 100+ employees.

Business leaders

Business leaders/Investors – this stream is for you if you’re a senior executive, investor, or board advisor.

Not sure which stream is best for you?

 Schedules & Speakers

Please select your stream below with your desired start date to view the speakers for your chosen cohort.

What you'll get from this program

What you'll get from this program

Sold Out! September – March

6:30AM PDT (UTC-7) | 9:30AM EDT (UTC-4) | 15:30H CEST (UTC+2) | 19:00H IST (UTC+5:30) | 20:30H ICT (UTC+7)

Sold Out! October – March

6:30AM PDT (UTC-7) | 9:30AM EDT (UTC-4) | 15:30H CEST (UTC+2) | 19:00H IST (UTC+5:30) | 20:30H ICT (UTC+7)

Strategic Session Topics

  • Organizational purpose: How to ensure it adds value

  • Megatrends: How emergent environmental, societal changes, threats to global peace (including Ukraine), pandemics, the “great resignation”, human values, use of data and AI, and social justice are changing expectations of businesses and the future of work

  • Changing stakeholder expectations: How to deal with them proactively

  • How a tsunami of guidelines, regulations and ESG reporting frameworks are impacting a business’ license to operate

  • New types of business models: How stakeholder capitalism, the circular economy, regenerative and “net positive” businesses, digital and emerging technologies, and the 5th industrial revolution are disrupting businesses as we know them

  • How asset managers, hedge funds, high-wealth individuals, proxy advisors, and ratings and rankings are impacting board of directors and the board agenda

  • Fiduciary duty: The fast-evolving views and understandings of fiduciary duty across regions

  • Oversight and the role of board committees in embedding ESG in business strategy

  • Thinking the unthinkable: How to anticipate and lead during major disruptions to ensure resiliency and business continuity considering threats to global peace (including Ukraine), pandemics, societal changes, climate change, the biodiversity crisis, digital advancements and beyond

  • How the board of directors can best fulfill its critical role in strategy and setting the cultural tone from the top 

  • How to balance short and long-term goals, objectives, compliance, and accountability

  • Trust and integrity: The board’s role in shareholder and stakeholder communication

  • Incentives: How incentives can drive wanted or unwanted behaviour

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees    

  • What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how are they being addressed by regulatory trends and government incentives?

  • Why and how are companies and investors embracing the SDGs and using them as a catalogue of innovation and investment opportunities?

  • Using the SDGs as a common language to communicate with stakeholders

  • How to use the SDGs framework as a strategic tool to understand the world’s biggest pain points and determine risks and new opportunities

  • The link between the SDGs, ESG, purpose, and a business’ license to operate and grow

  • How have global events and megatrends prioritized and accelerated SDGs implementation at business and government levels?

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Climate change: Why and how it impacts the environment, oceans, biodiversity, health, and the global economic and socio-economic outlook and therefore businesses, supply chains, customers, employees, and the societies they operate in

  • How to manage short and long-term transitional, regulatory, insurance and political risks and seize opportunities within renewable energy, carbon markets, and a just transition

  • Net Zero and Science Based Goals: Scope 1, 2 and 3 commitments, actions, and reporting

  • Growing expectations: 
    • Asset managers, proxy advisors, investors, and related investor driven initiatives (Climate Action 100+, UN Principles for Responsible Investment, etc.)
    • Banks, insurance companies, and customers
    • Regulatory bodies and non-regulatory bodies in the climate reporting and disclosure space (US SEC, EU, Asia, International Sustainability Standards Board, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, CDP, etc.)
    • Stock exchanges (Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative)
    • Voluntary initiatives and ratings and rankings
    • Other stakeholders
  • How companies, investors, insurance companies, and regulators are responding to growing demands for climate action

  • Scenario analysis, disclosure expectations, adaptation, mitigation, and transition strategies

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Growing expectations of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) disclosure– what are investors asking for and why does it matter?

  • What is considered ESG? Greenwashing, greenwishing, and greenwalking

  • How ESG disclosure issues are leading to securities class actions and civil litigation

  • Understanding ESG ratings, rankings, indices, integration frameworks and materiality risk and opportunity assessments

  • How companies are and should be responding to growing demands for ESG disclosure

  • How to integrate emerging risks into ERM frameworks

  • Anticipating future trends and new requirements in ESG

  • Why are financial materiality assessments integral to ESG being embedded in company strategy and board oversight?

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Identifying, assessing, and managing salient risks: The impact of environmental and social disasters on your supply chain

  • Child labour, forced labour, modern slavery, etc.: Do you have human rights risks in your supply chain?

  • The impact of your products: Water scarcity, air pollution, deforestation, etc.

  • Beyond compliance: Existing and emerging regulations and how to disclose support for major international norms and soft law initiatives

  • Creating mutually beneficial relationships for the long-term: Avoid supply shortages, reputational setbacks, and align the power of procurement with incentives

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Expectations from investors, proxy advisors, and society to foster a pipeline of diverse talent, and to proactively address employee misconduct and workplace culture issues

  • The business case for diversity, including its ability to manage complex issues and identify innovation potential

  • How to achieve diversity of thought – the many forms of diversity (including cultural, racial, religious, age, sexual orientation and gender, disability, socioeconomic background, life experiences, etc.) and the value they bring

  • The power of data, the barriers to progress, and the practices that work when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

  • Mental health and wellness: Empathy, work from home, burnout, and the future of work

  • Laws and regulations, board composition, board structure, and the role of the board nomination committee

  • Performance evaluation, incentives, and accountability

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Changing risks and expectations associated with anti-corruption, integrity, ethical business practices, and transparency

  • Developing and testing the hallmarks of an effective anti-corruption compliance program

  • Steps companies can take to reduce fraud and corruption including facilitation payments

  • Public and self-disclosure: How much should company reputation matter in decision-making?

  • Managing and overseeing investigations

  • Anticipating new forms of corruption: Cybercrime, dark money, misuse of private and public goods, etc.

  • Public trust, relations, and reputation

  • Navigating the political involvement of companies and businesses

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Digitalization: The impact of the digital revolution including blockchain and cryptocurrencies, big data, AI-generated opportunities, 3D virtual worlds (Metaverse), and decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)

  • Data ethics: Collection, stakeholder privacy concerns, and management of confidential information

  • Increased organizational and personal data protection vs. the use of data for good

  • How cyber risks impact how responsibly a company’s reputation is perceived

  • Cyber attacks, hybrid work’s cyber dangers, disaster containment, recovery, and business continuity

  • Antitrust laws and stakeholder expectations including the management of cyber propaganda and fake news

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • When tax optimization is no longer responsible

  • The cost of ownership in a volatile world: Dilemmas when investing for the long-term

  • What information is needed to make well-informed capital investment and capital expenditure (CapEx) decisions

  • How to incentivize leadership for ESG in the short and long run

  • The ripple effects of the pandemic on tax, investment, and pay strategies including income inequality

  • What’s next: Changes in global tax policies that drive ESG investments

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • Determining the material issues to manage and communicate to shareholders and stakeholders

  • How to deal with the rise of shareholder activism including engagement strategies before the proxy season and beyond

  • Common standards and frameworks: International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), VRF, Climate Reporting (TCFD, CDP, CDSB), GRI, UN Global Compact, SDGs, etc.

  • Regulations and requirements including Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Dodd-Frank Act, human capital accounting, and stock exchange requirements 

  • What are the future trends in reporting?

  • Oversight, accountability, and the role of the board committees

  • A summary of the previous topics and what they mean for the future of good governance

  • What does and what will good governance look like?

  • How to prepare for the evolving role of the board, executives, shareholders, and other stakeholders 

  • What it means to be a steward of the future including good judgment, courage, and the ability to ask meaningful questions

Session information

• 12 sessions at 90 minutes each, plus approximately 90-120 minutes of preparation time/materials per session (videos, case studies, targeted discussion questions and recommended reading lists).

• Each session will require a total investment of approximately 180 minutes.

• Program registration is capped at 36 participants to ensure a rich opportunity for dialogue.

  • A toolbox of 12 comprehensive modules containing dozens of in-depth fireside chats and interview videos with renowned global subject matter experts and board members on the most current and pressing issues executives face today.

  • Sets of questions to evaluate whether your current approaches appropriately consider changing risks and opportunities.

  • A curated list of recommended readings, reports, tools, and frameworks.

• Discussion of preparation material provided.

• Discussion of the session topic with global faculty members.

• Brief presentation of the session case study.

• Breakout session with approx. 6 people per group (groups change bi-weekly).

• Question and discussion period.

• All sessions are held under Chatham House Rule.

  • Completion of the 12 modules over a 6-month period or less

  • Successful completion of final exam

How much does it cost?

US sales tax may apply depending on where you reside. Tax will be automatically calculated at check out.

One time Payment
of Full Program


Six-month installment plan


Compare our ESG Programs

What you get Designation Program Certificate Program
Live, bi-weekly interactive discussion and Q&A with global experts and fellow cohort members
No. of modules/sessions
Designation (GCB.D)
Certificate of Completion
Credly™ digital credential
Current, real-life case study analysis and discussion with fellow cohorts and speakers
World-class faculty
Program duration
24 weeks (12 sessions bi-weekly)
Up to six months
Monthly Q&A session with Helle Bank Jorgensen and other program members
In-depth leader insight videos with renowned global experts
Questions to ask management and tools for providing effective oversight
Course materials available 24/7
Access to global network of peers
Final exam
Access to Alumni LinkedIn Group post-graduation
Price (US$)


Anirban Ghosh

Chief Sustainability Officer Mahindra Group

A pandemic like COVID-19 amplifies uncertainties. In this milieu, the programs done by ESG Competent Boards enable a pragmatic and positive perspective on the way forward where economic, social and environmental sustainability are intertwined.

Maria Jamriska-Mulder

Senior Advisor, Central Risk Management, ABN AMRO Bank and Co-Owner/Director, Apollo Capital

The insights, oversights and perspectives have definitely strengthened my mindset towards the need for integrated opportunity, risk and impact thinking, acting and reporting, with the SDGs as a lighthouse. Not only will I recommend the program to my peers, but would also like to come back one year from now as the pace of the sustainability space is fast moving and dynamic.

Hillary Thatcher

Hillary Thatcher

Senior Director, Indigenous and Northern Infrastructure, Canada Infrastructure Bank

This was an incredible program with outstanding faculty and a fabulous and diverse network of peers – a global experience indeed. Thank you Competent Boards for a remarkable experience!

Welcome, which course are you interested in:

Primarily discuss the topics through the lens of serving on the board. You must be serving on at least one board with fiduciary responsibility to enter this stream.

Discuss the topics through a wide range of business perspectives (including the board) and comprise senior executives, investors, and board advisors.

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