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Why Does Sustainability & ESG Education Require an Upgrade?

Why Sustainability Training is Failing Businesses?


In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and sustainability are now crucial factors. They drive investor decisions, consumer behavior, and regulatory compliance.

As organizations worldwide are actively setting ambitious sustainability goals, the demand for effective training programs has never been more critical. However, a significant gap exists in the availability of such programs. This leaves many companies at risk of outdated knowledge, greenwashing practices, and a workforce ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of sustainability.

The Current State of ESG and Sustainability Courses

The current state of ESG and sustainability training courses reveals a wide range of programs in scope and effectiveness. Common types of courses include corporate initiatives, online courses, and sessions by specialized institutions. However, a key challenge across these platforms is the prevalence of outdated or overly generic content. This fails to address the specific, real-time industry needs and regulatory changes companies face.

Highlighting this concern, a 2021 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) survey found that only 20% of companies felt their current ESG certification courses were fully adequate. This statistic underscores the widespread issue of content relevancy and timeliness.

Barriers to Effective ESG Learning

Let’s find out about the key challenges hindering the effectiveness of current ESG & sustainability courses:

  • Outdated Content: ESG is a rapidly evolving field with new regulations, best practices, and industry trends emerging at a rapid pace. Many programs fail to keep pace with this dynamism, offering content that is outdated and irrelevant to real-world applications. This creates a crucial disconnect between the knowledge gained and the practical skills needed to implement effective ESG strategies.
  • Inconsistent Quality and Lack of Standardization: The ESG courses market is a crowded space, with a diverse range of providers offering varying quality standards. The absence of clear industry benchmarks makes it difficult for companies to differentiate between reputable trainers and those lacking the necessary expertise. In such an environment, organizations risk investing in programs that fail to deliver promised learning outcomes.
  • Limited Experts across the Globe: Mastering ESG requires subject matter experts with deep industry knowledge and practical experience. Unfortunately, many programs lack access to these valuable resources. As a consequence, learners may receive generic theoretical overviews instead of practical insights tailored to their specific sectors and challenges.
  • Higher Costs: Often, the most reliable and comprehensive courses are priced at a premium, putting them out of reach for individuals or smaller companies, further exacerbating the knowledge gap in crucial sustainability practices.


The Cost of Inadequate & Unreliable Methodologies

The ramifications of insufficient training are far-reaching. At a corporate level, there is a direct impact on compliance and risk management, with companies facing potential fines and reputational damage for non-compliance with sustainability regulations. From an operational perspective, inadequate training undermines a company’s ability to meet its sustainability goals. This can lead to inefficient resource use and increased environmental impact.

For example, a notable case involved a major tech company that faced legal actions due to non-compliance with environmental regulations, a situation that could have been mitigated with better-informed staff and more robust ESG training practices.

Here’s a closer look at the potential pitfalls:

  • Greenwashing: Outdated courses can lead to greenwashing, a deceptive practice where companies misrepresent their ESG efforts. This can damage brand reputation, erode stakeholder trust, and potentially lead to regulatory fines.
  • Non-compliance: Evolving regulations and reporting requirements can make meeting compliance standards a complex task. Unreliable training can leave companies unprepared to navigate this complexity, increasing the risk of penalties and legal repercussions.
  • Wasted Resources: Investing in training that lacks substance equates to wasted resources. Companies spend valuable time and money on programs that fail to equip employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, hindering their ability to achieve sustainability goals.
  • Limited Employee Engagement: Generic, irrelevant course material can fail to capture employee interest and commitment. This lack of engagement creates a disengaged workforce with a limited understanding of ESG principles, hindering efforts to integrate sustainability into the company culture.



As the global business community embraces ESG and sustainability, the need for addressing the growing need for knowledge through enhanced ESG and sustainability training in the corporate sector is clear. Course providers must ensure their programs are up-to-date, accessible, and credible to equip companies. Companies, in turn, must prioritize investing in quality courses for their staff to drive sustainable practices, mitigate risks, and unlock new opportunities. In lockstep with the evolving corporate world, training programs must adapt to support a more sustainable future.

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