Guest post by Katy Moore, Director of Corporate Strategy, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
It’s nearly the end of the year. (How did that happen?!) And, if you’re like most corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals, you’re currently looking for – and budgeting for – potential 2015 professional development opportunities. I know this because you’re calling me – a lot. And, I love it!
As your companies face increasing pressure from consumers, shareholders, and society to be more socially responsible, you, as CSR practitioners, are increasingly looking for ways to expand your skills and your networks, stay inspired (or perhaps get re-inspired), and learn practical, applicable best practices that can help you deliver maximum value back to your company and the communities you serve.
Back in 2012, in response to this growing pressure, the corporate members of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) asked us to develop a new type of professional development opportunity for the CSR field, one that would meet the growing and ever-changing needs of CSR professionals, would be grounded in practice, would be associated with an accredited college or university, and would be affordable.
In 2014, after nearly two years of exploration, research, and curriculum development, WRAG, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, launched the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility. This four-part, year-long course of study examines the scope and complexity of CSR, including its evolution, components, best practices, measurement models, key issues and current trends. At the end of the year, all of this results in a professional certificate in CSR from Johns Hopkins University.
More importantly than the curriculum, however, is the Institute’s structure and philosophy. The program, which was created by CSR professionals for CSR professionals, was designed with applicability in mind (that is, skills and ideas that are immediately useful and are realistic to implement once you’re back at the office). And, to ensure that the curriculum remains current and relevant to practitioners’ needs, all classes are taught by leading CSR professionals from the field. Faculty members include Tim McClimon of the American Express Foundation, Diane Melley of IBM, Carolyn Berkowitz of the Capital One Foundation, and Margaret Coady of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, to name a few.
As to the structure of the program, only 25 CSR practitioners are accepted each year. These 25 professionals spend 10 months together learning, exploring best practices, and, ultimately, building a powerful network of peers, mentors, and confidants. They do this not only with each other and faculty members, but also with guest speakers from companies and organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Disney, The White House, the United Nations Foundation, and Greenpeace.
There are a lot of workshops, conferences, and discussion forums available to CSR professionals. But, if you’re looking for something a bit different, if you’re looking for a cohort of peers to learn with and from, if you’re looking for a course of study steeped in practice and real-life case studies, check out the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, and what our alumni are saying about their experience. And give me a call – I’d love to hear from you!