Frequently asked questions


1. Who registers for your programs?

Our programs are designed for executives, investors, board advisors and board members, as well as other senior business leaders. They help provide intelligence and oversight on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities for business or investments.

2. What languages are your programs offered in?

We currently offer our courses in English, and have participants joining us from all over the world.

3. How long do you have access to the Competent Boards learning platform?

Once you complete the program and receive your certificate of completion, your access to the learning management platform will expire. If you would like continued access to the materials, you can join our Alumni Membership.

4. What's the difference between the three ESG programs?

ESG Designation Program

Our Global ESG Designation Program is our flagship offering for business leaders, investors, board directors and those who advise them. You and your fellow cohort members are together for 12 90-minute sessions over 24 weeks, interacting live with our expert faculty on the full range of ESG topics.

You get to know everyone well, as you’re discussing case studies in small groups throughout. This limited edition program is available three times per year, and is divided into two streams: one for board directors, the other for senior business leaders, investors, and advisors. At the end, you will get a designation to put behind your name (GCB.D), a certificate of completion, and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.

ESG Certificate Program

The ESG Certificate Program is the on-demand (pre-recorded) version of our global ESG Designation Program. You can take this program at your own pace, and you have six months to complete it. It uses the same high quality course materials as the Designation Program, and includes six monthly live Q&A sessions with others enrolled in the program as well as Competent Boards founder Helle Bank Jorgensen. At the end, you get a certificate of completion and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.

ESG Fundamentals Program

ESG Fundamentals is an abbreviated version of the Global ESG Designation Program. The learning materials are of equal high quality, but the course content and topics have been reduced to enable completion in a shorter time frame. Still global in nature, you will go through the program with approximately 30 other cohort members from around the world. There are four sessions over four weeks, with each session lasting 60-90 minutes. At the end, you get a certificate of completion and a Credly badge to use on your LinkedIn profile.

Note: unlike the Global ESG Designation Program, there is only one stream: board directors and other business leaders learn together in the same cohort.

Designation programs

1. Is there a deadline to apply for the Designation programs?

We recommend that you apply as soon as possible because our previous programs have sold out and are typically waitlisted.

2. What is the difference between the Designation Program for Board Members and the Designation Program for Business Leaders?

The content in both programs is identical. However, the difference between the programs is the peer group you will join during the interactive sessions and the lens through which the topics are discussed during the interactive sessions.


In the program for business leaders, you would join a group of global executives, investors, board advisors and prospective board members and discuss the topics from different perspectives.


In the program for board members, you would join a group of global board members and primarily discuss the topics through the lens of serving on the board during the interactive sessions. This program is for active board members with fiduciary duties, non-executive / independent directors and executive directors of companies with more than 100 employees.

3. What has changed in the Climate & Biodiversity Designation Program?

Our revamped Climate & Biodiversity Designation Program is relevant for helping business leaders and board directors navigate today’s changing business landscape.

During six 90-minute sessions over 12 weeks, you will interact live with our expert faculty on the full range of climate change and biodiversity topics. There are excellent networking opportunities, because you will discuss the case studies in small groups throughout the program.

This limited edition program is available twice per year, and is done in one stream: a mixed cohort of board directors, senior business leaders, investors, and advisors. At the end, you will get a designation to put behind your name (CCB.D), a certificate of completion, and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.

4. How many participants are in each Designation program?

We aim for 36 participants in each program stream so that the group size is optimal for networking and discussions.

5. How often are the courses offered?

The interactive programs are currently offered three times per year, with cohorts starting in September, February and May.

6. What is the time commitment?

Each interactive session, which is held bi-weekly, lasts for one and a half hours.You can also join the session 15 minutes early to network further with the group. We recommend that you spend at least one to two hours reviewing the preparation material. There is also a final exam, which should take participants less than three hours to prepare for.

7. What do I need to prepare before the interactive sessions on the Designation programs?

For each session, we send out a set of preparation materials two weeks in advance. These include a strategic series of interview videos with some of our 180-plus global leaders on their views and advice, a case study and a curated list of recommended readings and tools, as well as a list of questions to help you assess where your organization stands on these issues.

8. What is the Chatham House Rule?

We hold our sessions under the Chatham House Rule. That means participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

9. What happens if I miss an interactive session?

ESG Designation Program
You can miss no more than four sessions of the ESG Designation program and still obtain the Certificate and Designation. We will send you session recordings of the sessions you have missed.

Climate Designation Program
You can miss no more than two sessions of the Climate Designation program to get your Certificate and Designation. We will send you session recordings of the sessions you have missed.

ESG Lite Program
You can miss no more than two sessions for the Lite program to get your certificate of completion. We will send you session recordings of the sessions you have missed.

10. Will the program ever be conducted in-person?

We do not foresee conducting the programs in-person, because this would make it more time-consuming and expensive for both our global speakers and participants joining the interactive sessions.

11. What makes the ESG Designation Program different from other programs?
  • Competent BoardsTM is the original and premier creator of world-class online environment, social, governance (ESG) and climate training programs for board directors and business leaders.
  • Several other programs are focused on sustainable business strategy, but are not designed from the lens of good corporate governance and/or designed for business leaders to provide oversight on these issues and identify risks and opportunities. Our programs are designed from, and for, the viewpoint of business leaders and board members.
  • Our programs cater to global participants and the content is not focused on any particular region. Many programs for board directors are focused more locally, but our ESG and climate programs offer a global faculty that allows for you to gain a diverse range of perspectives in a global business context. 
  • We have 180-plus renowned international board members, executives, and experts contributing to our materials, providing interview videos, and joining our sessions to speak directly with participants.
  • Many ESG and climate programs are solely provided as a “self-study” program, or are in large groups/webinar format. Our Designation programs provide small group interactions, unparalleled camaraderie and an invaluable network that extends long after the program finishes. The interaction with fellow cohort members and faculty makes the program fun and highly engaging, while providing a great opportunity for networking. 
  • Our ESG Program provides a strong overview of all aspects of ESG, which is becoming increasingly important at the board table, and for senior management and stakeholders. Many programs do not cover the variety of topics we do, and our alumni have attested to how our program has opened their mind and enhanced their perspective on all facets of ESG.
12. What is the value of the designation?

The Global Competent Boards Designation (GCB.D) or Climate Competent Boards Designation (CCB.D) are designations that you receive in addition to a certificate of completion and a digital Credly™ badge. These designations recognize the knowledge and skills that you have gained through actively taking part in our online global dialogue sessions. 

Having the designation behind your name on LinkedIn and on your email signature signals your enhanced knowledge. Our alumni report that it  also spurs outside interest and opens doors for new positions. If you are currently on a board, companies will typically include your designation with your board profile for shareholders to showcase your additional competencies in climate and/or ESG.

The designation is not currently overseen by an accreditation entity, because we constantly update the material in our programs to keep them topical and relevant, which makes it difficult for an accreditation body to oversee. Our 180-plus global leaders oversee the program content and  contribute to our sessions and program materials.

13. What is the difference between a Designation program and a Certificate program?

The difference between our Designation programs and our Certificate programs is that the Designation Programs are interactive, with bi-weekly Zoom sessions with your cohort and the different global leaders speaking for each session. The Certificate programs are self-guided, but  provide you with similar content as the Designation programs. You earn certificates from both programs, but only earn a designation from the interactive Designation programs.

Certificate programs

1. What is the time commitment for the programs?

Based on the key materials for each session, including leader insight videos and core readings, we estimate that you will spend roughly 3-4 hours per module. There are 12 modules in the ESG Certificate Program and six in the Climate Certificate Program. You will have six months to complete either program at your own pace.

2. Is there a final exam?

Certificate programs end with a written reflection exam, including multiple-choice, short- and long answer questions.

3. How often are the courses offered?

The Certificate programs are available to start at any time.

ESG Fundamentals

1. Who registers for this program?

ESG Fundamentals is for any business leader, board member, investor or board advisor looking to gain a high level overview of ESG topics in a short amount of time.

2. What is the time commitment for this program?

The first three of the four interactive sessions are 1 hour long. The fourth session is 1.5 hours long. There are also two to three hours of interview videos to watch prior to each session.

3. Is there a final exam?

The ESG Lite Program has no final exam.

4. Do you get a certificate with this program?

Participants will earn a certificate of completion and Credly badge upon completion. 


1. Are there benefits for alumni?

Alumni can network with others in our Competent Boards Alumni LinkedIn group. We also offer alumni special invites to events, alumni update sessions, mentoring opportunities and  webinars. Our alumni membership also offers continued access to course materials as well as additional knowledge-building and networking opportunities.

2. Does the certificate or designation expire?

The certificate and designation do not technically expire. However, we aim to launch  a continuing professional development (CPD) program to allow alumni more frequent competency updates and a formal recertification.


1. What is your refund policy?

For the Designation programs, we will provide refunds for cancellations that we receive in writing to no later than 30 days prior to the course start date with a 7.5% administration fee (plus applicable taxes). Non-attendance will incur the full course fee. 


We will not issue refunds for the Certificate programs or if we have given you advance access to the learning materials.

2. Can I be considered for a scholarship to join the program?

We are actively searching for companies who are interested in supporting compelling leaders who are unable to finance their participation in the program. While we do not have any open scholarship opportunities at this time, we put out a call for applications to our mailing list and on our social media when we find an open scholarship opportunity.

3. Do you offer a corporate group discount?

If more than five people from one organization join the same cohort, we will offer a 5% discount for those taking part.

4. Can I get a tax credit when I pay for the program?

In Canada, you can deduct the course if you are self-employed and the course is related to your work. 


The rest of the world will have different tax structures, so we would recommend looking into your country’s tax policies.

5. Can I combine promotional offers?

You can only apply one discount code per purchase. For any subscription (payment plan) purchases, you can apply one discount code on the initial purchase to reduce the selected monthly payments.

Welcome, which course are you interested in:

Primarily discuss the topics through the lens of serving on the board. You must be serving on at least one board with fiduciary responsibility to enter this stream.

Discuss the topics through a wide range of business perspectives (including the board) and comprise senior executives, investors, and board advisors.

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