Helping Your Clients Through CSRD: A Guide for Consultants

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) represents a significant shift in the regulatory landscape, requiring companies to be more transparent about their sustainability Impacts, Risks and Opportunities (IROs). As a consultant, your role in guiding clients through this complex process is critical. The CSRD, part of the European Green Deal, aims to enhance transparency and reliability of sustainability information for approximately 50,000 impacted companies. This guide will outline key steps to ensure your clients are compliant and positioned to benefit from the CSRD.

Understanding CSRD

The CSRD is an EU directive aimed at improving and standardising the sustainability reporting of companies. It builds on the existing Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and extends the scope to include more companies, detailed reporting requirements, and assurance standards. The directive mandates companies to disclose information on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, impacting how businesses operate and report their activities.

The European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) provide a structured framework for reporting sustainability information. Familiarise yourself with the ESRS framework, which includes two overarching standards (ESRS 1 and 2) and ten topical standards (ESRS E1 to E10). These standards cover a range of environmental, social, and governance aspects, ensuring that sustainability reporting is accurate, consistent, and comparable across the European Union

Mastering the CSRD's intricacies is the foundation for providing valuable advice to your clients. Immerse yourself in the directive's provisions, scope, and timelines, leaving no stone unturned. Its important to constantly monitor updates, guidance, and interpretations from the European Commission, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), and other relevant authorities.

Additionally, familiarise yourself with the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) being developed by EFRAG. These standards will provide detailed reporting requirements and guidance, shaping how companies disclose their sustainability information under the CSRD.

Reporting boundaries and scope

Firstly determine which entities, operations, and activities fall within the CSRD's scope for your client. Consider factors such as company size, industry, and geographic footprint. Clearly define the reporting boundaries to ensure comprehensive and accurate data collection.

Step 1: Assess Client Readiness

The first step is to evaluate your client's current sustainability reporting practices. Conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine their readiness for CSRD compliance. Key areas to review include:

  • Existing ESG Data Collection Processes: Analyse the methods and tools your client uses to collect and manage ESG data. Identify strengths and weaknesses in their current approach.
  • Current Sustainability Reporting Frameworks Used: Determine which frameworks your client is currently using (e.g., GRI, SASB) and assess their alignment with CSRD requirements.
  • Internal Capabilities and Resources: Evaluate the internal teams responsible for sustainability reporting, including their expertise, resources, and capacity to handle enhanced reporting requirements.
  • Gap Analysis: Identify gaps in data, processes, or knowledge that need addressing to meet CSRD standards.

Use this assessment to create a tailored action plan for each client, highlighting specific areas that require improvement.

Consulting Strategies

  • Interviews and Workshops: Conduct interviews and workshops with key stakeholders to gather insights into current practices and challenges.
  • Document Review: Examine existing sustainability reports, policies, and procedures to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
  • Benchmarking: Compare your client's practices with industry best practices and standards to identify areas where they lag behind.

Step 2: Double Materiality Assessment & Stakeholder engagement

Developing a robust reporting strategy involves aligning your client's sustainability goals with CSRD requirements. This strategy should include:

  • Double Materiality Assessment: Conduct a double materiality assessment to identify and prioritise the ESG issues most relevant to the client's business and stakeholders. Double materiality involves assessing both the impact of the business on the environment and society (inside-out perspective) and the impact of ESG issues on the business (outside-in perspective). This process involves engaging with stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations.
  • Data Management: Establish or enhance data collection, management, and reporting systems to ensure accuracy and completeness. Implement robust data governance practices to maintain data integrity.

Stakeholder engagement is a critical component of the CSRD implementation process. Help your client identify and prioritise key stakeholders, such as investors, regulators, employees, customers, and local communities. Develop a comprehensive stakeholder engagement plan that includes:

  • Identifying stakeholder concerns, expectations, and information needs
  • Establishing communication channels and feedback mechanisms
  • Conducting stakeholder consultations and dialogues
  • Incorporating stakeholder input into the reporting process

Effective stakeholder engagement not only enhances transparency and accountability but is a requirement of the CSRD process and also provides valuable insights that can inform your client's sustainability strategy and reporting practices.

Consulting Strategies

  • Gap Analysis and Roadmap: Create a detailed roadmap that outlines the steps needed to close identified gaps and achieve compliance. This should include timelines, resource allocation, and key milestones.
  • Integration with Business Strategy: Ensure the sustainability reporting strategy is integrated with the overall business strategy. This alignment helps embed sustainability into the core operations and decision-making processes.
  • KPI Development: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the client's sustainability goals and CSRD requirements. These KPIs will help track progress and measure success.

Step 3: Gap Analysis

Once you've understood which ESRS topics are most material to your client, then guide then you need to understand where gaps exist in their current reporting and how they can be addressed. This may involve:

  • Process Improvement: Streamline and improve existing processes for ESG data collection and reporting. This includes automating data collection where possible and ensuring consistency in data reporting.
  • Technology Adoption: Implement technology solutions to automate and enhance data management and reporting capabilities. This could include sustainability management software, data analytics tools, and reporting platforms.
  • Training and Capacity Building: Provide training to internal teams to build their capacity in sustainability reporting and compliance. This includes educating them on CSRD requirements and best practices for data collection and reporting.
  • Policy Development: Develop or update policies and procedures to support sustainable practices and reporting. Ensure these policies are communicated effectively across the organisation.

Consulting Strategies

  • Project Management: Establish a project management framework to oversee the implementation process. Assign roles and responsibilities, set deadlines, and monitor progress to ensure timely completion of tasks.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Foster collaboration between different departments (e.g., finance, operations, HR) to ensure a holistic approach to sustainability reporting. Regular communication and updates are essential to keep everyone aligned.
  • Pilot Testing: Conduct pilot tests for new processes and technologies before full-scale implementation. This helps identify potential issues and allows for adjustments to be made.

Step 4: Complete the ESRS report

This is potentially the most onerous step of the process, but once your client understands the necessary disclosures they need to make and the KPIs they need to report, its time to write the report. This often takes the form of a Sustainability Statement in a clients annual report.

Using the ESRS framework and the data gathered, prepare a comprehensive sustainability report that covers all material sustainability issues. Ensure that the report is clear, concise, and easy to understand, and that it includes all required disclosures and datapoints. The report should provide stakeholders with a transparent and accurate picture of your company’s sustainability performance.

Step 5: Obtain assurance

ESRS reports currently require only limited assurance standards, however this is expected to change so be prepared. Ensuring compliance with CSRD involves continuous monitoring and quality assurance. Key activities include:

  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of ESG data and reporting processes to ensure accuracy and compliance. Internal audits should be complemented by external audits to provide independent verification.
  • Third-Party Assurance: Engage third-party auditors to provide assurance on sustainability reports, as required by CSRD. This adds credibility to the reports and builds stakeholder trust.
  • Continuous Improvement: Implement feedback loops and continuous improvement processes to enhance sustainability practices and reporting over time. This includes analysing audit findings and stakeholder feedback to make necessary adjustments.

Consulting Strategies

  • Audit Trails and Documentation: Maintain detailed audit trails and documentation of data sources, methodologies, and processes. This transparency is crucial for external assurance and regulatory compliance.
  • Compliance Monitoring Tools: Utilise compliance monitoring tools and software to track and report on ESG metrics in real-time. These tools can help identify non-compliance issues early and facilitate corrective actions.
  • Training and Awareness: Continuously train and raise awareness among employees about the importance of compliance and quality assurance. This ensures a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

Step 6: Publish & Communicate Effectively

Effective communication is crucial for maximising the benefits of CSRD compliance. Help your clients:

  • Develop Clear Reports: Create clear, concise, and engaging sustainability reports that meet CSRD requirements and are accessible to all stakeholders. Use visuals, infographics, and case studies to make the reports more engaging.
  • Use Multiple Channels: Utilise various communication channels (e.g., websites, social media, press releases) to disseminate sustainability information. Tailor the messaging for different audiences, including investors, customers, employees, and the public.
  • Engage Stakeholders: Foster ongoing dialogue with stakeholders to build trust and demonstrate commitment to sustainability. This can include regular updates, surveys, and forums for feedback.

Consulting Strategies

  • Storytelling: Use storytelling techniques to communicate the client's sustainability journey, highlighting successes, challenges, and future plans. This makes the information more relatable and impactful.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Emphasise transparency and accountability in all communications. Clearly explain the methodologies, data sources, and assumptions used in the reports.

Step 7: Leverage CSRD for Competitive Advantage

Yes CSRD is a regulation, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it to your advantage. You should always be factual with your client disclosures but do encourage them shout about the fact that you are being open, transparent and honest. Beyond compliance, the CSRD presents an opportunity for companies to enhance their reputation and gain a competitive edge. Guide your clients to:

  • Showcase Leadership: Highlight their commitment to sustainability and position them as leaders in their industry. Use sustainability reports to showcase innovative practices and achievements.
  • Attract Investment: Use high-quality sustainability reporting to attract responsible investors who value ESG performance. Demonstrate how sustainability initiatives contribute to long-term financial performance and risk management.
  • Drive Innovation: Encourage innovation in products, services, and operations to meet sustainability goals and improve overall performance. This can include adopting new technologies, improving supply chain practices, and developing sustainable products.

Consulting Strategies

  • Brand Differentiation: Use sustainability as a key differentiator in the market. Highlight the unique aspects of the client's sustainability approach and how it benefits customers and society.
  • Customer Engagement: Engage with customers on sustainability issues and involve them in the client's sustainability journey. This can include sustainability-focused marketing campaigns, product labelling, and customer feedback mechanisms.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Encourage the client to form partnerships and collaborations with other organisations, NGOs, and industry groups to advance sustainability initiatives and share best practices.


Navigating the CSRD process can be challenging, but with the right guidance, your clients can achieve compliance and leverage sustainability reporting for long-term success. By assessing readiness, developing a robust strategy, implementing necessary changes, ensuring compliance, communicating effectively, and leveraging CSRD for competitive advantage, you can help your clients thrive in this new regulatory environment.

As a consultant, your expertise is invaluable in this journey. Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to support your clients through the CSRD process, and you will become an essential partner in their sustainability efforts.

If you'd like to talk about how our white-labelled CSRD Platform could help you better work with clients on the CSRD process, then click here to book a demo with us today!

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