CSR, ESG & SDGs: What Do They Mean? And what’s the Difference-or what are the similarities— between these different concepts?

ESG, CSR, and SDGs are all important concepts in the realm of sustainability and responsible business practices. Understanding their meanings and differences can help businesses navigate these areas effectively.


CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, refers to the policies and actions taken by a company to make positive contributions to social causes, such as the environment, community, or employee well-being. It involves achieving a balance between economic, environmental, and social imperatives while meeting the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.


ESG, or Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance, encompasses three broad areas that businesses should focus on to improve sustainability and reduce risk. It includes factors such as climate change, diversity and inclusion, and human rights. ESG takes a more specific and measurable approach, with businesses adopting sustainable policies and measuring their success through ESG ratings.

The key differences between CSR and ESG

The key differences between CSR and ESG lie in their scope and approach. CSR is a broader collection of sustainable activities aimed at making businesses accountable and telling a story about the organisation’s intentions. ESG, on the other hand, focuses on specific sustainable policies and provides data that can be analyzed to assess a company’s sustainability performance.


SDGs, or Sustainable Development Goals, are a set of 17 goals established by the United Nations to achieve a better future by 2030. They cover various aspects such as gender equality, clean energy, sustainable cities, and climate action. Businesses can align their policies and actions with the SDGs to contribute to global sustainability efforts.

What do businesses need to know?

For businesses with a strong CSR ethos, there is a connection between ESG and SDGs. ESG helps quantify the impact of CSR efforts and provides a benchmark for improvement. By aligning ESG with the areas highlighted by the SDGs, businesses can make their contribution to the global sustainability goals.

Businesses need to be aware of ESG requirements and regulations, such as the European Union’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD). Compliance with these regulations and integrating measures to improve performance can help businesses work towards achieving the SDGs.

The bottom line

CSR, ESG, and SDGs are interconnected concepts that guide businesses towards sustainable practices and responsible decision-making. Understanding these terms and their relationships can help businesses prioritise and align their efforts to create a positive impact on society and the environment.

Curious about how to kick-start your sustainability transition and meet some or all of the requirements of CSR, ESG, and the SDGs?