Close this search box.



ESG vs. CSR – Understand the Difference

Within sustainability, there are two key concepts: ESG and CSR. They may seem similar at first glance, yet there are significant differences.

But what do these two sustainability terms mean? And how do they differ from each other?

We compare the two and teach you the differences between them here.

What do the abbreviations mean?

Here is a brief overview of the three abbreviations you will encounter in this post.

  • ESG: Environmental, Social, Governance. A designation for the three areas companies measure and report on in their sustainability efforts.
  • CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility. A broader term for a company’s social responsibility and the overall plan for sustainability seen in a cultural context.
  • CSDR: Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. A term for the EU’s common sustainability directive, creating a uniform line to assess companies’ sustainability efforts.

You can do more than just understand your company's enviromental footprint with Acubiz

Use our CO2 account, part of our Company Policy feature, to track emissions from travel and make eco-friendly choices. It’s a simple way to support your ESG goals.

What is ESG?

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance.

It’s a way for companies to document their efforts within sustainability in these three areas, focusing on:

  • Environmental factors
  • Social conditions
  • Corporate leadership and governance


ESG focuses not on financial data but on setting measurable criteria within these three areas, providing partners, customers, investors, and stakeholders with a uniform way to judge a company’s sustainability efforts.

Benefits of ESG

Strategically working with ESG can benefit you in several ways:

  • Increased interest from investors
  • Greater employee satisfaction
  • Better reputation
  • Stronger stakeholder relationships
  • Reduced carbon footprint from the company

What is CSR?

CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility.

CSR is a broader term that more extensively encompasses a company’s voluntary commitment to environmental, social, and economic impacts on society.

The range of initiatives is broader here and can include volunteer work and charity.

A CSR strategy can contribute positively to both society and the environment.

Benefits of CSR

If your company actively works with its social responsibility, CSR can provide several benefits:

  • Stronger economy (including the bottom line)
  • Higher employee engagement
  • More investment opportunities
  • Increased customer loyalty
  • More visibility around your brand

Here's the difference between CSR and ESG

So, how exactly do CSR and ESG differ from each other?

In short, ESG focuses on specific criteria, while CSR more broadly focuses on the overall responsibility and sustainability plan.

And their purposes are not the same.

ESG creates transparency through specific and objective criteria, providing investors, partners, and stakeholders with a clear insight into a company’s sustainability efforts.

CSR encompasses broader assessments of a company’s sustainability and simultaneously aims to reach a wider stakeholder group.

Sustainability Reporting Requirements

From 2024, the requirements for companies’ sustainability reporting have increased.

The legal requirement is called CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) (Danish) and is an EU directive. The purpose is for all member countries in the EU to report on sustainability in the same way.

The directive, therefore, makes it easier to see through and compare companies’ sustainability performances across borders, sectors, and industries.

Timeline for Sustainability Reporting

The requirements are phased in so that they initially apply to large publicly traded companies.

  • January 1, 2024: The rules apply to large publicly traded companies, insurance companies, and banks with over 500 employees.
  • January 1, 2025: Large companies in accounting class C are covered by the legal requirement.
  • January 1, 2026: Small and medium-sized publicly traded companies must comply with the EU directive.

Voluntary Standards for SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises are not yet covered by the EU directive – and therefore, they can voluntarily choose to submit a sustainability report.

For many companies, it may be a good idea to do so because they can be indirectly affected by the requirements through customers covered by the CSRD legislation (Danish).

If you are a supplier for larger companies, you might be asked to send sustainability data. This could be, for example, documentation of how your work affects the environment.

And then it’s an advantage to have a credible sustainability report ready.

Do you want to know more?

At Acubiz, we specialize in providing digital solutions that make managing your company’s sustainability efforts simpler and more efficient.

Contact us if you want to know how we can help your business or book a free online demo to learn more.


How do ESG and CSR differ in their approach to sustainability?
ESG focuses on specific environmental, social, and governance criteria, providing clear metrics for sustainability efforts. CSR encompasses a broader commitment to social responsibility, including volunteer work and charity, aiming for positive societal and environmental impacts.
ESG practices can lead to increased investor interest, higher employee satisfaction, a better reputation, stronger stakeholder relationships, and a reduced carbon footprint.
Large publicly traded companies, insurance companies, and banks with over 500 employees need to comply starting January 1, 2024. The requirement will expand to include more companies in the following years.

Related words