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Revolutionizing ESG education: ESG Communications micro-certificate

“Now is a critical time to understand, learn, and grow in ESG communications because we're really on the precipice of a global movement towards reporting,” says senior ESG communications leader Jessie Sitnick
March 27, 2024

ESG Fundamentals for Communication and Marketing Professionals

Concordia's committment to spearheading innovation is the driving force behind the introduction of groundbreaking micro-certificates in sustainable finance and ESG communications, marking a significant stride in fostering growth in these vital fields.

Jessie Sitnick, a senior leader in ESG communications and the instructor of the micro-certificate in ESG fundamentals for Communication and Marketing Professionals, helped develop the program. Here's how it will address a widening skills gap in the sustainability sector and provide professionals with insights to confidently tackle new professional challenges.

How does your background position you to guide students looking to gain the ESG knowledge they need to advance their careers?

Jessie Sitnick: I've been working in and around the environmental and sustainability sector for about 15 years, and what positions me well to support students on this learning journey is that I’ve had the opportunity to work across the entire sustainability ecosystem.

I've worked with nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and policy advocates who are striving to advance government action around these issues. As a consultant, I've also collaborated with financial institutions and blue-chip companies aiming to stay on top of, if not ahead of, the curve.

So, I've had the privilege to work with those who are examining this issue from multiple perspectives, which I think gives me both empathy for everyone trying to keep up in this rapidly shifting and evolving environment, as well as a sense of what matters and what is credible to those who are likely bringing the toughest lens to the discussion.

How can participants gain an edge from your experience?

JS: When I started out in this field, sustainability communications was a niche area. Fast forward to today, and it has become a massive, mainstream conversation. There are not enough communications and marketing professionals who truly grasp this work, and the demand for it is high and not going away. 

The benefit of starting to build a foundation of knowledge in ESG for communications and marketing professionals is that this is an emerging area within our field. We need the literacy to be strategic in communication and marketing, and this literacy is crucial for helping our organizations manage their reputations.

Why is now a critical time to gain ESG insights amidst rising scrutiny surrounding reporting?

JS: Now is a critical time to understand, learn, and grow in ESG communications because we're really on the precipice of a global movement towards reporting. This means that organizations, both big and small, are going to feel pressure from their supply chain, regulators, or even consumers to align with increasingly standardized reporting standards. 

While communications professionals may not be the ones who are filling out these reports, they must understand and position them along with the narratives surrounding them. Organizations are being asked to be transparent about questions they may not have previously addressed publicly. So, understanding how we support our organizations as they navigate this is going to be critical.

In what ways do you see the ESG fundamentals micro-certificate making a meaningful impact in the lives of the participants?

JS: As marketing and communications professionals, we can be often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to communicating about ESG issues. On one hand, we rightly fear participating in greenwashing. On the other hand, we want to showcase the work our organizations are doing on their sustainability journeys. Our challenge is to find a way to communicate authentically and credibly, protecting our organizations’ reputations while acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers.

There are no easy solutions to many of the tough challenges in our field, so we need to have conversations and understand the underlying principles guiding how we discuss these issues and provide sound guidance to our organizations. In the micro-certificate, I first want to ensure that we all have a solid base of knowledge and understanding. We'll then examine case studies based on my experiences in the field to see how they unfolded before working through a case study ourselves, allowing us to tackle a real-life challenge in real-time while having the opportunity to discuss it with colleagues.

It has been a dream of mine that we would be able to bring communications and marketing professionals together for honest and collegial conversations about how we navigate our profession. I look forward to working through that with all of the participants in this course. It will be fun and exciting, and I plan to learn from it as well.


Learn more from Sitnick during the micro-certificate in ESG fundamentals for Communication and Marketing Professionals starting April 20. 

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