Putting Impact into Practice: The Value of ESG Skills Development

Below is an article originally written by Paxton Mittleman. Go to Udemy's company page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Transparency around companies’ carbon emissions, employee policies, and board makeup has become essential for organizations that want to perform better while also strengthening their brand reputation. McKinsey reports companies that see growth and profitability, paired with improved sustainability and ESG, outgrow their competitors and beat them in shareholder returns. The scope and impact of this environment, social, and governance (ESG) data are expected to grow, with governments and international regulatory bodies developing standardized requirements for accurate, data-driven measurement. At the same time, hot-button discourse around environmental and societal issues has led to significant ESG backlash, putting more pressure on organizations to demonstrate the results of these policies lest they be accused of greenwashing.

Yet despite ESG’s rising significance, less than half of CFOs indicated they have the right skills and human resources to respond to changing reporting expectations. As more employers embrace ESG policies, they must enable their employees to learn skills to drive corporate impact, form increasingly diverse workforces and wider talent pools, and build toward a more sustainable world.

The High-Demand, High-Reward Cycle of ESG

Udemy’s Global Learning & Skills Trends Report found ESG course consumption increased 3,128%¹ year-over-year, the second largest surge in content collections only to ChatGPT. This surge shows that despite changing sentiments around ESG, there’s increased demand for ESG-related courses that develop skills critical for mitigating risks, enhancing brand reputation, and attracting and retaining both ESG-focused investors and employees.

Embracing ESG skills development isn’t just a “feel-good” initiative; it’s a smart business call that can improve financial performance over the long term. A KPMG survey found that 74% of CEOs report they have fully embedded ESG into their business for value creation, and 58% expect to see significant returns from their ESG investments in the next three to five years. By investing in ESG skills development, companies can set themselves up for a boosted bottom line and a more diverse and engaged workforce while positively impacting the world.

Udemy offers over 280 ESG-related courses that can help companies:

  • Lay the groundwork for long-term financial success. Courses like Corporate ESG and Sustainability – 101 Level Masterclass led by instructor Layli Miller-Muro, clearly map ESG’s relationship to business outcomes. With this framing in mind, teams can design frameworks for long-term plans that reduce costs, drive growth, and build shareholder trust.
  • Protect valuations through risk assessment. Julia Mariasova’s Business Case for Corporate Sustainability teaches learners about the risks and opportunities created by sustainability trends, helping teams see around corners and develop more airtight corporate sustainability plans.
  • Improve overall reporting. With courses explaining new reporting structures and requirements like instructor Academia de Meio Ambiente’s Sustainability Reporting with GRI Standards, teams can more easily identify the content, requirements, and principles of high-quality ESG measurement.
  • Understand ESG’s business case. Instructor Ulysses Smith’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Beginnerʼs Guide teaches how to implement DEI policies across organizations. By identifying DEI strategies and understanding the business case for creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, these courses help teams understand ESG’s connection to financial impact while fostering a culture of belonging across organizations.

Udemy and ESG

Udemy has ranked in the top percentile for three years in a row within our Internet Software and Services sub-industry as rated by Sustainalytics², a Morningstar company, and leading ESG research, ratings, and data firm.

In line with its ESG course collections and our dedication to promoting sustainable learning and business practices, Udemy is proud to publish our first comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions calculations including upstream and downstream impacts. Udemy’s low emissions intensity is aligned with Udemy’s Results-Driven value. This baseline report will assist Udemy in future sustainable decisions and underscores Udemy’s commitment to incorporating ESG into everyday business practices in alignment with global sustainability goals.

For more information about Udemy’s courses and to explore content that supports ESG skills development, visit https://www.udemy.com/topic/esg/.

¹We calculated total consumption by Udemy Business learners across all course topics for the year from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023. We calculated the percentage growth in consumption compared to the year from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022.
²Copyright ©2023 Sustainalytics. All rights reserved. This logo contains information developed by Sustainalytics (www.sustainalytics.com). Such information and data are proprietary of Sustainalytics for a particular purpose. Their use is subject to conditions available at https://www.sustainalytics.com/legal-disclaimers. This Udemy Risk Ratings Summary Report contains information developed by Sustainalytics (www.sustainalytics.com). Such information and data are proprietary of Sustainalytics and/or its third party suppliers (Third Party Data) and are provided for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement of any product or project, nor an investment advice and are not warranted to be complete, timely, accurate or suitable for a particular purpose. Their use is subject to conditions available at https://www.sustainalytics.com/legal-disclaimers.
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