A new executive program at the Rotman School of Management will bring leaders together from Canada’s top organizations to help improve their long-term impact in the environment, social and governance (ESG) space.
The Rotman ESG Designation program, which begins with its first cohort in September, explores the key ESG frameworks managers and directors must know today. ESG refers to practices used to evaluate a company’s environmental and social footprint — such as pollution and fair treatment of workers — in addition to the company’s overarching leadership and operational practices.
“The program is designed to help leaders become fluent in the languages of sustainability, societal impact and responsible business practices,” says Stephanie Hodnett, executive director of Rotman Executive Programs.
Taught by leading Rotman faculty and industry experts, the program covers a range of topics including climate, sustainable finance, workplace equity, diversity and inclusion, stakeholder engagement and Indigenous relationships within a business context. Participants will explore how to steer their organizations in an authentic way that avoids “greenwashing” — without sacrificing financial returns.
“As you move into leadership roles, issues of ESG will increasingly permeate every decision you make,” says Walid Hejazi, professor of economic analysis and policy and the academic director of Rotman Executive Programs.
“As you move into leadership roles, issues of ESG will increasingly permeate every decision you make.”
Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy
Academic Director, Rotman Executive Programs.
The program is a direct response to the expressed needs of leaders, investors, communities and government for more attention, transparency and guidance around ESG issues, according to Hejazi. Upon completion, learners will be prepared to take an examination leading to an ESG.D designation from the University of Toronto.
“A professional ESG designation is a way to make yourself indispensable to an organization,” says Hejazi. “It signals to employers and clients that you understand how to include ESG considerations in developing sound business strategies."
And with Canada’s goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Hodnett says universities have an important role to play in educating and empowering business leaders to act.
“This designation is one way we can really move the needle on climate action — to bring ESG from something that’s vaguely talked about to a significant undertaking to shift business practices throughout the country,” she says.
Interested managers and directors from across industries can apply to be part of the first cohort of the Rotman ESG Designation program, which runs from September 2023 to April 2024. It involves a mix of in-person sessions, online modules and a capstone project leading up to the designation exam.
As the program grows, Hejazi says he envisions it becoming a hub for knowledge sharing among Canada’s leading companies in both the private and public sectors. Alumni of the program will be invited back to Rotman over the course of their careers for networking opportunities and events to stay current on industry trends and sustainability research at the university.
“We’re creating a community of practice for like-minded individuals who care about ESG — change agents who can go into your organizations and help you become ESG-friendly,” he says.
“It’s extremely exciting to be part of a program that puts seeds into major Canadian companies and hopefully beyond, and to help them change strategies from within to achieve their ESG goals."
Written by Jessie Park | More school news →