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With the launch of its first professional body, has sustainability lost its edge? >> Interesting albeit controversial take by Guardian Sustainable Business’ Jo Confino.

Does the sustainability sector need one more professional accreditation?

As you’ll see from the comments section, the opinion on that is divided down the middle. And while we all probably have also an opinion to add depending on our background, longevity of work in the sector and where we stand on the idealism scale, the discussion reminded me of my first “CSR workshop.”

Conducted by the Center for Sustainability & Excellence [CSE] group and certified by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment [IEMA], the workshop had all the telltale signs of a robust professional certificate curriculum.

From comparing the leaders vs. the laggards in “CSR practices,” the emerging trends in CSR reporting and the regional differences in how corporations were interpreting “corporate social responsibility,” to writing a CSR plan for my company that encompassed sustainability factors as well as social and economic goals, the curriculum was rigorous and gave me a lot of information to process and use for years to come.

It also gave me a moniker – CSR-P – that I have used over the years to indicate that I am a CSR Professional.

Did it invite curiosity? Often.

Did it help explain my credentials and experience more credibly? Sometimes.

More importantly, the workshop made me think. It made me dive into research. It taught me materiality and helped me sift between greenwashing, whitewashing and the many other labels of our sector. And it also opened up a path for me that otherwise would have remained superfluous and intangible in definition.

But back to Jo’s article: Do we need one more professional accreditation?

Probably not.

But as the sector grows, divides, integrates and subsumes within organizations, we do need groups/associations to allow sustainability professionals to learn from each other’s challenges, share best practices and grow the cadre of professionals integrating CSR and sustainability into their skill sets and mindsets.

And if this critical mass of influencers and practitioners can then influence other professionals – HR, Accounting, Technology, Finance, etc. – to shift their thinking and modus operandi to align with our mutual goal of preparing ourselves to coexist in a shared / new / circular / no waste [pick your preference]  economy, that would be a win.

Not only for the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability but for our entire sector.

Thoughts? Leave a comment or connect with me @AmanSinghCSR.

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