GRI Research: Certified Training a Success
GRI’s certified training program had a slow start in 2008 in Brazil. Despite of major initial delays, GRI deserves kudos for a remarkable scale-up, standardization and successful intermediation of its training program. Time to celebrate GANGNAM STYLE!
Looking back, I recall that this long gestation period along with major (for a small NGO, anyway) and upfront ‘franchise costs’ were weighing on my mind when I proposed to
Through this support, I was able to take this on as a ‘real project’. This means that I was able to dedicate the required ‘horse power’ through my consulting practice (
Support and training was also provided by others associated with the LEAD network, particularly
Now let’s take a look at GRI’s latest Research Report: Impact Analysis for GRI’s Certified Training Program (CTP-GRI Training Impact Research Report-27sep12). Some of the statistics are truly amazing and its fun to page through the many diagrams provided in the (secured!) PDF report.
Within about five years, GRI successfully applied its intermediated training model to cover over 70 countries. Wow! This model allowed GRI to introduce 8,000 course participants to GRI's sustainability n framework. Many are perhaps still wondering what title to add to their business cards and CVs after receiving their GRI certificates: GRI Certified Consultant, Reporter or Trainer? Other training organizations struggle to achieve this sort of scale-up within such a short period of time.
GRI’s latest research report is silent about the financial aspects associated with this training model. It started with generous support from donors like the Dutch Government. GRI’s latest available financial report (2010/2011) shows an income of EUR 442,645 from Training Partner Certification (presumably, the ‘franchise fees’). And email exchanges with GRI indicate that the training program has been self-sustaining since the 2011/2012 period.
From a training partner perspective, I recall that offering GRI training quickly tripled (or so) the size of LEAD Canada’s (modest) balance sheet. More importantly, it made the organization much more visible and provided a demand driven product to its menu of training activities. And I should not leave out that it put a few pennies in the pockets of the trainers (yes, including yours truly).
Although engaged in GRI-certified training since 2009, I am somewhat surprised to see that LEAD Canada has yet to adopt GRI-type reporting . However, this may require LEAD Canada to disclose its annual/financial reports first, something any NGO should be doing routinely. In my experience, GRI reporting for a small NGO is not very complicated (see also this example: Fulbright Academy joins NGO GRI Reporting Pioneers).
At a personal level, the best part of being involved in the GRI training are the many interesting conversations and case studies emerging during the courses. It was inspiring to see course participants (and trainers, guest presenters) sharing how and why they were engaging with internal and external stakeholders, implementing projects and systems, and pursuing reporting in an effort to drive the sustainability performance (and, yes, PR benefits) of their organizations (or organizations they were advising). Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this!
Did you attend GRI certified training courses or perhaps delivered such training? What is your take from GRI’s latest research report about its certified training program?
About the author: Mehrdad Nazari (MSc, MBA, LEAD Fellow) is the CSR and ESIA Practice Leader at Prizma LLC. He developed the first GRI-certified sustainability reporting training program in North America. He co-delivered numerous training courses focused on GRI, IFC Performance Standards and Equator Principles (see 20+ endorsements on