Corporates are preparing for CSRD, but cite major headaches over data and resources

Almost two-thirds of businesses preparing to report under the EU’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) believe they are well prepared, but major challenges regarding data and resources are hindering some businesses.

Corporates are preparing for CSRD, but cite major headaches over data and resources

PwC’s inaugural 2024 Global CSRD Survey was published today (13 June). It surveyed 500 senior executives and business professionals, including finance, sustainability and risk leaders to gain insight into preparations to report under the CSRD.

The survey found that 63% of companies are “very” or “extremely confident” that they’ll be ready to report to CSRD from January next year. Additionally, eight in 10 businesses believe that the reporting process will help embed sustainability into decision-making processes to a greater extent moving forward.

What is CSRD?

In January of this year, the EU launched (CSRD) into action, intending to significantly increase transparency in the field of corporate sustainability.

The Directive extends sustainability reporting requirements in the EU from 11,000 to about 50,000 companies, covering businesses that were previously covered by the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD).

The Directive mandates reporting on value chain greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 3) and action taken to address them, from 1 January 2025 for the largest private firms.

Additionally, the CSRD extends its jurisdiction to specific non-EU listed or non-EU parent companies, necessitating global awareness and compliance efforts among businesses worldwide.

However, analysis from Net Zero Tracker has revealed that half of the world’s 100 largest private companies do not currently have emissions reduction targets, leaving them exposed to civil scrutiny, investor pressure and mandated disclosure requirements.

Are businesses struggling with CSRD?

In what is the latest in a long line of new disclosure requirements for businesses, many corporates are struggling with certain aspects of the Directive.

PwC’s survey found that data availability and quality is the toughest challenge – cited by 59% of businesses. Of the companies required to report in 2025, only 20% have validated the availability and completeness of data for their disclosures.

Many businesses are also treating CSRD as a siloed function for the sustainability team. Around 60% of businesses have not involved their technology function and teams in assisting with data collection and reporting. Instead, 74% are utilising spreadsheets for data collection, although companies to plan to invest in AI and technology to help in the future.

Nadja Picard, Global Reporting Leader, PwC Germany, said: “As the countdown to CSRD compliance approaches, it is positive to see companies are largely confident that they will be ready to report. However, there is still some way to go, with the majority grappling with complex challenges, particularly the quantity and quality of data required, not only for their own operations but across their value chain.

“As the CSRD essentially requires sustainability reporting to be on par with financial reporting, leading executives are recognising that sustainability information must be available, accurate, and audit-ready: not just on a one-time basis, but annually. The global impact of CSRD shows the importance of getting to a global baseline of reporting standards to reduce complexity and improve comparability.”

Reporting overloads

Indeed, there seems to be a begrudging acceptance amongst the sustainability profession that compliance and disclosure are becoming a dominating part of their job remits.

Separate research published by consultants SB+CO gathered the thoughts and experiences of more than 30 senior sustainability leaders from large corporates, all of which were at different stages of complying with CSRD.

Responses were published anonymously by SB+CO in a CSRD SOS report, outlining that resource allocation (including talent and financial) and boardroom discussions on sustainability are being “dominated by CSRD, ” impacting the space and time to realise sustainability as a value driver.

As one respondent to the report stated: “The timing is too fast for the volume of the requirements. I thought my role was helping to redefine the strategy for the business. Now it seems as if the only focus is on compliance.”

While businesses still realise the benefits that CSRD can bring in embedding sustainability, many believe it is coming at a time when too many reporting frameworks are being introduced. This leaves sustainability teams scrambling to collect data and comply.

The EU’s Green Deal, including the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), the EU Taxonomy, the Directive on Green Claims as well as long-standing frameworks like Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) and many more are creating too much reporting work for sustainability practitioners. As another reply stated in the SB+CO report: “everything on its own makes sense; together it feels like a tsunami.”

Elsewhere, research from S-RM found that 84% of corporates do not feel fully prepared for upcoming ESG regulations. The latest insights from S-RM’s 2024 ESG Report found that 74% of companies believe that they are not fully mature in handling ESG issues and would therefore struggling to comply with some of the aforementioned frameworks.

edie Explains: CSRD

This new report acts as an explainer for businesses looking to get to grips with the EU’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

This new edie Explains guide, developed with support from ClimatePartner UK answers all these questions and more. It features best-practice tips on getting to grips with CSRD, outlines its relationship with other reporting frameworks and features an expert viewpoint from ClimatePartner’s net-zero lead Chris Pocock.

Read the report.

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