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Frequently Asked Questions


Our programs are designed for executives, investors, board advisors and board members, as well as other senior business leaders. They help provide intelligence and oversight on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities for business or investments.

We currently offer our courses in English, and have participants joining us from all over the world.

We do not foresee conducting the programs in-person because this would make it more time-consuming and expensive for both our global speakers and participants joining the interactive sessions.

We recommend that you apply as soon as possible because our previous programs have sold out and are typically waitlisted.

The content in both programs is identical. However, the difference between the programs is the peer group you will join during the interactive sessions and the lens through which the topics are discussed during the interactive sessions.
In the program for business leaders you would join a group of global executives, investors, board advisors and prospective board members and discuss the topics from different perspectives.

In the program for board members, you would join a group of global board members and primarily discuss the topics through the lens of serving on the board during the interactive sessions. This program is for active board members with fiduciary duties, non-executive / independent directors and executive directors of companies with more than 100 employees.

We aim for 36 participants so that the group size is optimal for networking and discussions.

For each session, we send out a set of preparation materials two weeks in advance. These include a strategic series of interview videos with some of our 150-plus global leaders on their views and advice, a case study and a curated list of recommended readings and tools, as well as a list of questions to help you assess where your organization stands on these issues.

Each interactive session, which is held bi-weekly, lasts for one and a half hours. You can also join the session 15 minutes early to network further with the group. We recommend that you spend at least one and a half hours reviewing the preparation material.

We hold our sessions under the Chatham House Rule. That means participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

You can miss up to four sessions of the ESG Designation program, but still obtain the Certificate and Designation once you have completed the program. We will send you session recordings of the ones you have missed. 


You can miss up to two sessions for the Climate Designation program, but still obtain the Designation and Certificate once you have completed the program. We will send you session recordings of the ones you have missed.

Upon finishing the Designation programs sessions, you will participate in a group oral evaluation in the form of a board simulation with other program participants, based on a final case study. Here you will apply and summarize what you have learned from the program.
 Certificate programs end with a written reflection exam, including multiple choice, short and long answer questions. 

The difference between our Designation Programs and our Certificate Programs is that the Designation Program is interactive, with bi-weekly Zoom sessions to join your cohort and the different global leaders speaking for each session. The Certificate Program is self-guided, and provides you with similar content to go through the materials at your own pace and convenience over a 6-month period. You earn certificates from both programs, but only earn a designation from the interactive Designation Program. 

Competent BoardsTM is the original and premier creator of world-class online environment, social, governance (ESG) and Climate training programs for board directors and business leaders.


Several other programs are focused on sustainable business strategy, but are not designed from the lens of good corporate governance and/or designed for business leaders to provide oversight on these issues and identify risks and opportunities. Our programs are designed from, and for, the viewpoint of business leaders and board members.


Our programs cater to global participants and the content is not focused on any particular region. Many programs for board directors are focused more locally, but our ESG and Climate Programs offer a global faculty that allows for you to gain a diverse range of perspectives and better understand how ESG and climate change impacts on business, respectively, are evolving in a global business context. 


We have a wide variety of 150+ renowned international board members, executives, and experts contributing to our materials, providing interview videos, and joining our sessions to speak directly with participants. We have not seen any other program pull insight from this many world-renowned leaders.


You’ll learn from other classmates who are experienced, global board members/business leaders in their own right. Our designation programs provide small group interactions, unparalleled camaraderie and an invaluable network that extends long after the program finishes. The interaction with fellow cohort members and faculty makes the program fun and highly engaging. 


Many ESG and Climate programs are solely provided as a 'self-study' program, or are in large groups/webinar format, but in our sessions you hear directly from these renowned leaders, discuss real-life case studies, ask questions, network and benchmark your views with participants from a variety of countries. 


Our ESG Program provides a strong overview of all aspects of ESG, which is becoming increasingly important at the board table, and for senior management and stakeholders. Many programs do not cover the variety of topics we do, and our alumni have attested to how our program has opened their mind and enhanced their perspective on all facets of ESG. 


100% of our alumni have indicated they would recommend Competent Boards’ designation programs to a colleague.

The Global Competent Boards Designation (GCB.D) or Climate Competent Boards Designation (CCB.D) are designations that you receive in addition to a certificate of completion and a digital CredlyTM badge. These designations recognize the knowledge and skills that you have gained through actively taking part in our online global dialogue sessions. 


Having the designation behind your name on LinkedIn and on your email signature signals your enhanced knowledge. It also spurs outside interest and opens doors for new positions, as reported by many of our alumni. If you are currently on a board, companies will typically include your designation with your board profile for shareholders to showcase your additional competencies in climate and/or ESG.


The designation is not currently overseen by an accreditation entity because we constantly update the material in our programs to keep them topical and relevant, which makes it difficult for an accreditation body to oversee. Our 150-plus global leaders oversee the program content as well as contribute to our sessions and program materials. 


Although our self-guided Certificate programs do not grant a designation, you will receive a certificate of completion and digital CredlyTM badge to use on your LinkedIn profile.

Once you complete the program and receive your certificate of completion, your access to the learning management platform will expire. If you would like continued access to the materials, you can join our Alumni program.

Our Global ESG Designation Program is our flagship program for business leaders, investors, board directors, and those who advise them. You and your fellow cohort members are together for twelve 90-minute sessions over 24 weeks, interacting live with our expert faculty on the full range of ESG topics. You'll get to know everyone well, as you're discussing case studies in small groups throughout. This limited edition program is available three times per year, and is divided into two streams - one for board directors, the other for senior business leaders, investors, and advisors. It provides the most in-depth, world-class ESG education for business leaders available anywhere. At the end, you get a Designation to put behind your name (GCB.D), a Certificate of completion, and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.


ESG Certificate Program

The ESG Certificate Program is the on-demand (pre-recorded) version of our global ESG Designation Program. This program can be taken at your own pace, you have six months to complete it. It uses the same very high quality course materials as the Designation Program, and includes one monthly live Q&A session with others enrolled in the program and Competent Boards founder Helle Bank Jorgensen. At the end, you get a Certificate of completion, and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.


ESG Lite

ESG Lite is an abbreviated version of the Global ESG Designation Program. The learning materials are of equal high quality, but the course content and topics have been reduced to enable completion in a shorter time frame. Still global in nature, you will go through the program with approximately 30 other cohort members from around the world. It's four sessions over four weeks, each session 60-90 minutes. At the end, you get a Certificate of completion and a Credly badge to use on your LinkedIn profile. Note: unlike the Global ESG Designation Program, there is only one stream - board directors and other business leaders learn together in the same cohort.


Alumni can network with others in our Competent Boards Alumni LinkedIn groups. We also offer alumni special invites to events, alumni update sessions, mentoring opportunities, webinars and much more. Our Alumni membership also offers continued access to course materials as well as additional knowledge-building and networking opportunities.


For the Designation programs, we will provide refunds for cancellations that we receive in writing to info@competentboards.com no later than 30 days prior to the course start date with a 7.5% administration fee (plus applicable taxes). Non-attendance will incur the full course fee. 

We will not issue refunds for the Certificate programs or if we have given you advance access to the learning materials.

We are actively searching for companies who are interested in supporting compelling leaders who are unable to finance their participation in the program. While we do not have any open scholarship opportunities at this time, we will put out a call for applications to our mailing list and on our social media when we find an open scholarship opportunity. 

If more than five people from one organization join the same cohort, we will offer a 5% discount for those taking part.

In Canada, you can deduct the course if you are self-employed and the course is related to your work.

The certificate and designation do not technically expire, however we will soon be launching a Continuing Professional Development program to allow alumni more frequent competency updates and a formal recertification.

You can only apply one discount code per purchase. For any subscription (payment plan) purchases, you can apply one discount code on the initial purchase to reduce the selected monthly payments.


Nik Gowing

Nik Gowing

Founder, Director, Co-Author ‘thinking the Unthinkable’; Main Presenter, BBC World News 1996-2014

The ESG Competent Boards initiative has been ahead of its time. COVID-19 has created the existential threats for boards that many members had seemed to regard as unthinkable. That is why ESG Competent Boards is rightly having its moment. Its programme is a must for opening board eyes and minds to the new, unthinkable and existential realities we all confront.

Lars Storr-Hansen

Director, Storr-Hansen Consulting; Former Deputy Chairman, PensionDanmark

The Competent Board Certificate Program is a great toolbox for both Boards and Boards Advisors to learn about ESG issues. Twelve modules cover the most pressing ESG issues of the moment, with advice and insights presented by some of the world’s most respected business, investment and sustainability leaders. The program format is easy to follow and is a great road into the future.

Maureen Metcalf

Founder and CEO, Innovative Leadership Institute

I believe the Competent Boards program is the most comprehensive in the market, and ESG needs to be a crucial focus for effective board members in the future. I gained a much more comprehensive understanding of the breadth and depth of ESG topics and how to put them into practice as a board member. I highly recommend the program. The speakers are the top people in the world in their fields.

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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