Corporate Social Responsibility

The responsibility of companies for their social and ecological environment can look back on a long tradition. As far back as the Middle Ages, the guiding principle of the "honorable merchant" has been taught in merchant handbooks in Europe, representing a pronounced sense of responsibility for one's own company, society and the environment. In connection with the discussion about the social or societal responsibility of companies, one now encounters a variety of terms - most of them English-language - such as "sustainability", "environmental, social, governance" (ESG) or "corporate social responsibility (CSR)".

Over time, CSR has undergone countless definitions. In its strategic communication in 2011, the EU Commission defines CSR as the "responsibility of companies for their impact on society." According to this definition, compliance with applicable law is the minimum of corporate responsibility, but should not be limited to it. In order to fully meet their responsibilities, companies should also introduce processes that integrate social, environmental, business ethics, human rights and consumer concerns into their strategy and activities in close cooperation with their stakeholders.

The CSR concept has received significant normative consolidation at the European level through the CSR Directive (Non-Financial Reporting Directive), which introduced minimum harmonization of mandatory reporting of non-financial information for certain large companies. The CSR Directive was implemented in Austria with the Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (NaDiVeG). In the meantime, the EU Commission has published its proposal for the so-called Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, which must be implemented in national law by December 2022 at the latest and is to replace the previously applicable Non-Financial Reporting Directive. The proposal includes a significant expansion of the scope of users, the content components as well as the auditing and monitoring obligations.

The lawyers of wkk law advise companies on the preparation of sustainability reports as well as on the fulfillment of the relevant reporting obligations using national, Union-based or international frameworks. In particular, we advise both national companies and international groups on the proper preparation and observance of the innovations in the context of sustainability reporting resulting from the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

Contact person: Felix Ruhmannseder