CSR Barometer 2024

Published June 27, 2024

  • Sustainability

Regulation: Accelerator or brake in the quest for sustainable performance?

This third edition of the CSR Barometer, published by Wavestone and the College of Sustainable Development Directors (C3D), provides an in-depth analysis of integrating sustainable development into business strategies. Based on responses from 125 CSR function representatives, this report highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing sustainable strategies, particularly in response to the European CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive). The study emphasizes the importance of innovation, transformation, and business model adjustments to meet growing CSR expectations.


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Rethinking Business Models in a Global Context

The operationalization of CSR within companies shows significant progress. Companies appear to have recognized the importance of re-evaluating their business models to align with planetary boundaries. This concept refers to nine critical ecological thresholds humanity must not exceed to avoid major disruptions to Earth’s systems.

This involves integrating sustainable practices to anticipate crises, manage resource costs, and secure supply chains. This shift in perspective requires not only “greening” the current economy but also producing essential goods and services while adhering to sustainability principles.

  •  69% of companies have already initiated specific discussions or studies to assess the compatibility of their business models with planetary boundaries.

We have long recognized the importance of planetary boundaries and the need to adapt our business model accordingly, and we are responding by mobilizing our economic partners. Our business model has adapted to become one of the world’s leaders in the fight against climate change. But there is still a long way to go.

Gilles Vermot-Desroches Chief Citizenship Officer, Schneider Electric

Investing to Address CSR Skills Challenges

The lack of specific CSR skills has been identified as a major barrier to deploying effective strategies. This challenge is particularly critical in high-pressure sectors where rapid changes are difficult to implement.

Companies also report a shortage of human and financial resources necessary to support these initiatives, despite the potential long-term benefits such as return on investment and regulatory compliance. The lack of clear guidelines and the deprioritization disrgard for CSR issues are also cited as contributing factors to this resource deficit.

It is therefore crucial to promote CSR initiatives within every function, enriching jobs and fostering the emergence of new skills. By allocating sufficient resources and clarifying objectives, companies could improve their overall performance and ensure sustainability in line with societal and market expectations.

  •  74% of companies identify the lack of specific skills as a major obstacle.

Establishing a corporate culture that considers CSR issues is a powerful lever for engaging employees and driving transformation, requiring sustained efforts and innovative initiatives.

Isabelle Spiegel, Environment Director, Vinci

Deploying an Effective CSR Strategy through Key Stakeholders: Clients and Top Management

Clients play a crucial role in developing CSR strategies. Their influence pushes companies to be more transparent and responsible. This phenomenon is global, with consumers increasingly demanding that companies adopt sustainable and ethical practices.

At the same time, a majority of respondents indicate that a large proportion of their employees show interest in CSR issues.

As internal and external stakeholders become increasingly aware of environmental and social issues, companies, and especially their top management, must demonstrate concrete action and transparency.

  •  88% of respondents consider their customers to be key stakeholders in the development of their CSR strategy.

Engaging our clients towards more sustainable practices represents a crucial challenge, requiring an innovative and collaborative approach to succeed in this transition.

Géraud Pellat de Villedon, CSR Director, ID Logistics

Making CSRD a Transformation Lever Despite Its Complexity

The CSRD, a recent directive from the European Union, requires over 50,000 companies in Europe to disclose a comprehensive set of CSR data, mainly covering environmental, social, and governance aspects. To comply, companies must publish detailed information on their sustainability risks, opportunities, and impacts, as well as their policies, action plans, and targets in this area. Additionally, they must ensure the traceability and auditability of this information by implementing robust processes to collect and structure the necessary data for their new reporting.

Although complex, the CSRD is seen as a major opportunity to improve performance and transform companies. By putting sustainability at the heart of their strategy, companies can not only meet regulatory and stakeholder expectations but also ensure sustainable and innovative prosperity.

The CSRD is therefore a potential catalyst for transforming companies and evolving their business models towards greater sustainability. It can serve as a model for other regions of the world seeking to strengthen their own sustainability standards.

  •  71% of respondents see CSRD as an opportunity to improve performance and transform the business.

Significant efforts in change management will be necessary to make the CSRD’s reality as pragmatic as possible. It must serve both global and local business objectives, as well as the overall transformation of the company.

Béatrice Jung, CSR Director & Caroline Gonin, Chief Human Resources and CSR Officer, Transdev

3 Keys to Sustainable Transformation  

Companies must invest in environmentally friendly technologies to improve efficiency and reduce their environmental footprint. This includes adopting renewable energy sources, using sustainable materials, and implementing intelligent resource management systems.


  • Cédric Baecher

    Partner – France, Paris


  • Jan-Hendrik Uhlenberg

    Partner – Germany, Hamburg