In the past two decades, importance of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) has been increasingly recognized in many business sectors, while both investors and managers have begun to put more focus on corporate sustainability issues. Despite a substantial growth in the market demand for ESG talents, it has not been met by an equal number of practitioners holding professional qualifications in sustainability reporting skills, hindering the development of the industry as it begins to expand. In the poll we conducted during our recent webinar, over 80% of the participants said there is a lack of professional certification in the industry. In September, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched its Professional Certification Program, which is expected to generate far-reaching benefits for industry aspirants.
Established in 2000, GRI is an international independent organization that sets professional standards for assessing and communicating ESG impacts for different categories of organizations. The newly launched sustainability curriculum encapsulates the essentials of a professional sustainability reporting process which includes the application of GRI Standards, stakeholder engagement, materiality assessment, integration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the reporting process.
Upon completing the training programme and passing the certification exam, individuals attain a globally recognized qualification – GRI Certified Sustainability Professional, showcasing one’s competence and professionalism in sustainability reporting. In addition to theoretical knowledge, individuals are able to learn practical skills essential for a career in ESG-related fields. The certification also offers practitioners an opportunity for continuous learning and development. Certified Professionals are required to maintain their qualification through continuous learning, obtaining eight continuing education units (CEUs) annually.
Being certified by GRI gives individuals a competitive edge over their peers. The certification serves as a benchmark for employers to assess both current and prospective employees’ abilities in ESG-related matters, since previously there has not been any commonly recognized metrics for assessing ESG professionals. Having possessed competence in sustainability reporting, GRI-certified ESG talents are able to stand out from the crowd in the pursuit of their career goals.
As Hong Kong and China have been paving the way for sustainable finance, quality disclosure on both narratives and data that complies with the most widely adopted international standards is a must. GRI has taken the initiative for accelerating acquisition of the requisite qualifications by industry practitioners through its certification program. With enhanced training and development opportunities, sustainability reporting competencies of individuals are expected to grow exponentially, while overall industry standards could also be escalated and brought to the next level.
Check out the GRI Professional Certification Program offered by Alaya Consulting, the GRI Certified Training Partner in both Hong Kong and China.