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CSRD is already supporting the work of Chief Sustainability Officers: PwC survey

CSOs must engage all departments for sustainability integration – a survey suggests CSRD is acting as a catalyst.
Melodie Michel
CSRD is already supporting the work of Chief Sustainability Officers: PwC survey
Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

Companies that are preparing to report under the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) are engaging most departments in the process and integrating sustainability into business decisions – suggesting that the regulation is supporting the work of Chief Sustainability Officers.   

PwC’s Global CSRD Survey 2024 shows that companies preparing for CSRD compliance in the next two years are engaging an average of eight business functions in the development of reports: typically sustainability, finance, operations, procurement, technology and legal.

Additionally, a wide majority also involve executive committees or boards in CSRD implementation: 80% of firms having to report in 2025, and 70% overall.

Board oversight and cross-enterprise engagement are considered as one of the keys to sustainability success – though companies also need to ensure board members have enough knowledge of the topic to drive ambition, which is not always the case.

Still, Chief Sustainability Officers in conversation with CSO Futures always emphasise the need to engage all stakeholders within their organisation in order for sustainability to be fully integrated in every single business decision made in any department (some refer to this as being a ‘spider in the net’, others as having ‘tentacles across the organisation’) – and the PwC survey suggests that CSRD compliance is acting as a catalyst in this effort.

Read also: Sustainability leaders have a chance to act ‘while the clay is soft’ on compliance

CSRD readiness is improving

Most of the almost 600 EU and non-EU companies surveyed (more than half of which have annual revenues of over US$1 billion) feel almost ready to produce their first CSRD report: 97% of those having to report in 2025 and 93% of those who will report in 2026.

However, further questions reveal that this confidence mostly applies to topics that were already included in existing sustainability reports: workforce, business conduct and climate change in particular. Confidence drops to 70% or less on new disclosures, particularly around biodiversity and ecosystems, water and marine resources, and affected communities.

CSRD data challenges remain

Almost 60% of companies surveyed remained concerned about the quality and availability of data they need to produce CSRD reports, while 43% worry about their software capacity to handle this data. 

This may be because almost three quarters (74%) are currently using spreadsheets for sustainability reporting, compared to just 37% using more specific carbon calculation tools and less than 30% using dedicated sustainability reporting tools.

Artificial intelligence is being touted as a revolutionary solution for sustainability reporting, but adoption remains low at just 20% – though another 44% of companies are either planning to use AI or exploring this option.