CBI's successful Corporate Social Responsibility e-learning course

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a critical factor for business success in the European market. In 2017, CBI introduced a CSR e-learning course that teaches companies more about CSR requirements, and how to be eco-friendly and contribute to society. The course is regularly updated and very popular. In the last 7 years, the course has been given 26 times to more than 3,000 participants from 40 countries.

In 2016, CBI contracted experts Tove Antonissen and Anouk van Heeren. They helped create the CSR e-learning course. Today, Tove is a moderator for the online forum and Lisanne van Beek from CBI is involved as a CSR advisor. Together, they explain what has made the CSR e-learning course a success.

What is the purpose of the CSR e-learning course?

Tove answers, "This course aims to give participants a broad introduction to CSR. From there, they can start to make a CSR plan specific to their company or context. The course is open to people from all around the world. The main target groups are small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and business support organisations."

How was the e-learning created?

Lisanne explains, "CBI developed the e-learning in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the German Import Promotion Desk (IPD). ITC is responsible for the technical aspects and hosting of the platform. CBI and IPD both provide resources, knowledge and expertise. After the introduction in 2017, the course was updated in 2018 and 2021. The next update will be in 2024. French was added as a second language in 2022."

How does CBI address Corporate Social Responsibility?

"CSR is fully integrated into CBI's mission. CBI's 4 CSR focus areas are decent work, gender, youth and climate. For each new CBI project, we decide on a central sustainability challenge for a specific sector and country. In most projects, CBI works with sector frontrunners. They show others the benefits of committing to CSR. At CBI, we use export to the European market as a trigger for sustainable and inclusive change. We help SMEs improve their ecological and social circumstances via tools and technical assistance. The CSR e-learning is one of the tools used to raise awareness on CSR."

Which subjects are covered in the e-learning course?

Tove explains, "The course has 3 clear parts: why, what and how. The first part is about why CSR is relevant for companies. The second part is about what CSR is and how it is developing. And the third part is about what you can do with CSR as a company. With each update, we introduce new and relevant subject material. The next update in 2024 will include the European Green Deal, new legislation and circularity." 

What can participants expect to learn from this course?

"The course is very interactive. It includes a lot of practical examples and cases. These are shown as videos and case studies from different countries, cultures and business sectors. These sectors include tourism, agriculture and the textile industry. This helps participants understand how to start applying CSR in their own sector or context. The participants also share experiences and discuss challenges and opportunities on the online forum. As a moderator, I read all contributions and reply with tips and other sources, such as CBI studies."

When will the next e-learning take place?

"The next e-learnings in English are on 11 March, 27 May, 9 September and 11 November 2024. The e-learning in French starts on 4 May. You can register free of charge at ITC SME Trade Academy - Introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility."

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