Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


New-look CSR Academy emerges from shadows

July 2009

Britain’s once-defunct CSR Academy has stuttered back to life to provide a small number of training courses for this summer and autumn.

The former UK government CSR flagship – now rebranded as the CR Academy – became inactive in 2006 and was handed over to Business in the Community in spring 2008.

Since then there has been little activity until the past month, when Bitc posted details of two one-day introductory courses on corporate responsibility and a one-day stakeholder engagement course under the Academy’s umbrella. While the latter is new, the former is a slightly remodelled version of an existing Bitc course.

Bitc is also placing under the academy banner a ‘peer learning network’ on CSR reporting which meets bi-monthly, but this has already been running elsewhere for more than five years. Bitc says the network is being ‘relaunched in a more open format’.

By next spring the organization intends to develop three more new courses and a ‘CSR practitioner competency map and self-assessment tool’ to enable practitioners to identify any skills gaps in their present and potential future roles. The old CSR Academy did something similar, producing a competency framework outlining the skills needed to work in corporate responsibility.

Janet Williamson, senior policy officer at the Trades Union Congress, which take an interest in CSR training, told EP she was concerned that the new competency map should be drawn up with reference to various stakeholder groups.

‘The CSR Academy’s original competency framework benefited from input from a multi-stakeholder group that worked on it together,’ she said. ‘A competency framework that is set up by a business organization without consulting wider stakeholders will lack legitimacy and buy-in from stakeholder groups.’

Bitc has now charged Stephen Gee, its senior business development and support manager, with running the Academy, supported by four staff spending part of their time on the project. A Bitc spokesperson said there was no set budget for the Academy nor a timetable for its development, but the organizers are in ‘advanced talks’ with half a dozen institutions to provide links to any of their courses relevant to CSR. It has also said it is working with various bodies on producing relevant new courses, but two organizations listed as Academy development partners – the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply – could not tell EP the nature of the courses.

The Academy, established by the UK government in 2004 to promote CSR training, was run by the former trade and industry department. At its height it ran masterclasses and regional events for more than 300 subscribing companies. When it fell out of political favour Bitc took it on with a £25,000 ($41,000) dowry.

CR Academy | UK & NI Ireland | Training

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