Understanding CSRD

Explore the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and its significance in promoting transparency, accountability, and sustainable business practices.

What is CSRD?

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a vital reporting mandate within the European Union that enhances corporate transparency and accountability regarding sustainability issues. The directive requires large enterprises and organizations to provide detailed accounts of their annual environmental, social, and governance processes and initiatives, ensuring they align with sustainable development goals.


Growing concerns about the environmental and social impact of corporate activities prodded the European Commission to propose the expansion of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) in 2021. The evolution towards corporate sustainability reporting addresses a few issues with the former legislation and drives behavioral change toward sustainability. 

  • Standardizes Reporting Processes – A singular reporting format fosters consistency and comparability. It does not just meet the requirements of regulators. Investors and stakeholders will find it easier to comprehend and benchmark with sustainability performance
  • Prevents Greenwashing – Some companies exaggerate or misrepresent their efforts to appear more environmentally friendly. With CSRD’s comprehensive format that includes scope, timeframes, and complete gap analysis, organizations can thoroughly declare their activities and initiatives.   
  • Increases Stakeholder Engagement and Investor Confidence – Transparency fosters better engagement with customers, employees, regulators, and the general public. With the EU’s CSRD, companies show their commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, which tells stakeholders and investors they are worthy of their trust and loyalty.   

Areas of Reporting

CSRD compels organizations to disclose the different aspects of their sustainability efforts, from their daily practices, impacts, and strategies. Based on the EU Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), here are the universal sections that companies should include in their report:

Business Model and Governance

Governance is defined as the “process of making and enforcing decisions within an organization.” It is essential in CSRD because it directs the company to integrate sustainability considerations into its strategies and operations. Here are some specific details to include:

  • Roles and Responsibilities (e.g., board members, executive leadership, and relevant committees) 
  • Sustainability Efforts in Daily Activities
  • Revenue Streams 

Policies and Due Diligence

This section outlines the company’s sustainability policies and describes the roles of corporate leaders, supervisory bodies, and frontliners. It should also detail its due diligence approach, particularly in human rights, labor practices, and environmental impact.

Risk Management

Companies must identify and assess sustainability-related risks that may affect their operations, financial performance, or reputation and then outline strategies for managing and mitigating identified risks.


The following section shows the measurable targets and objectives, a baseline, and their progress. Some examples of these goals may be reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, eradicating paper-based processes, or increasing diversity in the workforce.


This area provides the metrics on the company’s performance on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. Aside from the qualitative and quantitative data on past performance, it should also contain their progress toward achieving targets and forward-looking information based on analyzed trends.

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Impact on People, Environment, and Society

Companies should also disclose the impact of their organization on their stakeholders (e.g., employees and communities), their surroundings, and the general public. Here are some specific aspects to include:

  • Employment Practices
  • Labor Rights
  • Community Engagement
  • Resource Utilization 
  • Waste Generation
  • Carbon Emissions
  • Economic Development
  • Social Welfare
  • Community Investment

Value Chain

Another vital section examines the company’s entire value chain, from raw material sourcing to product disposal. This part of the report exhibits their implication at every stage of the supply chain and proves transparency and responsible sourcing practices, to name a few. 

Companies should also disclose their relationships with suppliers, customers, partners, and other stakeholders because it demonstrates their dedication to sustainability throughout the value chain.

Implementing CSRD Based on Requirements 

The main goal of CSRD is to standardize reporting processes, ensuring companies provide the European Commission and other stakeholders with reliable information about their safety practices. Here are some specifics:

Expanded Scope

The NFRD used to mandate large enterprises only. The CSRD broadened its reach, now including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), non-listed companies, and specific categories of listed micro-enterprises. It is best to do the following to ascertain the company’s obligations:

  • Assess the size, legal form, and organizational activities to ascertain reporting obligations. Include all subsidiaries, joint ventures, and significant suppliers to provide a holistic view of the company’s impact. 
  • Conduct a comprehensive materiality assessment to identify relevant sustainability issues. Double materiality, a concept that CSRD has embraced, requires companies to report on the environmental and social impact of the activity and its financial effects. 
  • Engage with stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations. Incorporating their feedback enhances the organization’s relevance and credibility.  

Enhanced Disclosure

Companies should provide detailed Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) information, from climate-related risks to diversity policies. Here are some best practices that can help:

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Digital Reporting

This is vital to the CSRD as it improves accessibility, comparability, and usability of sustainability information. To fully comply with this particular requirement, here are some tried and tested practices:

  • Invest in software solutions that streamline data collection, analysis, and dissemination. For instance, furnish workers with digital sustainability checklists when they go on field or remote assessments.  
  • Implement internal controls that validate and verify the accuracy and reliability of sustainability data, minimizing errors and misstatements.

Assurance Requirements

Before the ratification of CSRD, external assurance was optional. Now that it is a fundamental stipulation, an independent auditor accredited by the European Commission should perform the assessment. While limited assurance is adequate, reasonable assurance may be mandated eventually.

  • Engage reputable assurance providers who will independently verify the accuracy and reliability of your sustainability disclosures.
  • Disclose the scope, methodology, and outcomes in annual reports, websites, and stakeholder engagement events. 

Timely Reporting

This particular directive specifies the deadlines for reporting as it ensures timely dissemination of sustainability information to stakeholders.

  • Establish clear reporting timelines and deadlines aligned with CSRD requirements.
  • Continuously monitor and review sustainability reporting practices to reflect changes in the company’s performance and to identify areas for improvement. 
  • Use clear, concise language and visual aids to enhance accessibility and comprehension.

FAQs about CSRD

According to the European Commission, companies that significantly impact society and the environment due to their size, activities, or ownership structure are eligible. They should also meet two out of these three criteria:

  • The number of employees is over 250
  • Total assets amount to €20 million or more
  • Net turnover amounts to €40 million or more

Not necessarily. Non-EU undertakings that are EU-listed, have branches in the EU that generate €40 million in revenue, or generate over €150 million from the EU should also release CSRD reports starting 2028. 

Exemptions are granted to companies with under 250 employees or generate revenues less than the amounts mentioned above.

The CSRD has started rolling out since January 2024 through a phased approach. Eligible companies should start compiling the essentials and prepare their annual report covering the 2024 financial year. That particular report will be submitted and published in 2025.

Sustainability officers, chief financial officers (CFOs), or dedicated sustainability teams are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and reporting sustainability data. However, ESG as a whole should be taken seriously from top management to frontline workers. It is the only way that the company can disclose metrics and detailed information about its sustainability practices and efforts.

Eunice Arcilla Caburao
Article by
Eunice Arcilla Caburao
Eunice is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. A registered nurse, theater stage manager, Ultimate Frisbee athlete, and mother, Eunice has written a multitude of topics for over a decade now.