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Developing CSR Professionals

October 7, 2013

As the profession of Corporate Social Responsibility continues to evolve from strategic philanthropy to sustainability to shared value and beyond, it is increasingly important that Corporate Social Responsibility professionals – and those wishing to become CSR professionals – have the training necessary to advance and enhance the field.

While numerous workshops and discussions occur through such organizations as Independent Sector, Business for Social Responsibility, The Conference Board, the Council on Foundations, Philanthropy New York and other regional associations of grantmakers as well as events such as the Social Innovation Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative, there are very few (if any) concentrated executive education programs where CSR professionals can be immersed in the various aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility over an extended period of time.

Now, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) and Advanced Academic Programs at Johns Hopkins University have teamed up to create the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, a year-long course that offers a Professional Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility to CSR professionals. I serve as the lead faculty member and curriculum design consultant for the Institute.

Beginning in January 2014, the Institute will take place over four two-day sessions during the winter, spring, summer and fall on the Johns Hopkins Washington, DC Center near DuPont Circle. It will be taught by leading professionals in the field, including Margaret Coady, Executive Director of CECP, Dinah Dittman, National Director of Community Engagement and Philanthropy at Kaiser Permanente, and me. Other faculty members and speakers will be announced later.

The Institute is designed to examine the scope and complexity of Corporate Social Responsibility – its evolution, components, best practices, measurement models, key issues and current trends. Its objective is to teach best practices in CSR as well as practical and immediately useful skills to CSR practitioners while stretching participants' imaginations and comfort zones into broader aspects of the field. Participants will examine Harvard Business School case studies and read Harvard Business Review articles as well as current literature in the field.

The curriculum was designed by a team that included WRAG members, and the course is broken up into the following modules, which will include guest speakers, group discussions, site visits and written materials:

  • The Business of CSR (January 23-24, 2014). This two-day session will examine the evolution and current complexities of CSR and explore the reasons and rationales for building a company's social responsibility strategy and program. Lead faculty: Tim McClimon, American Express.
  • Investing in Communities (March 27-28, 2014). This session will analyze current trends and best practices in philanthropy, social investing, and employee engagement. Lead faculty: Dinah Dittman, Kaiser Permanente.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Behavior of Corporations (July 17-18 or July 24-25, 2014). The third session will consider the values and attributes of a responsible company and investigate current trends, best practices, and opportunities in corporate sustainability programs. Lead faculty: to be announced.
  • Measuring and Communicating CSR (October 23-24, 2014). This final session will provide tips on how to measure a company's CSR efforts and explore best practices for developing an effective CSR communications strategy. Lead faculty: Margaret Coady, CECP.

Additional information about the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility can be found at

Continuing education and training are critical in any profession, and it's our hope that this Institute will become the premier developmental opportunity for CSR professionals. We would love to hear what you think. If you have a comment or question, please share it here. Alternatively, follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and comment there. Thanks for reading and sharing this with others.

P.S. Did you know that Barbara Brooks Kimmel, executive director of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World, has edited a new book entitled, Trust, Inc. – Strategies for Building Your Company's Most Valuable Asset? This book will be available beginning November 1, 2014.


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