20 March 2024

7 min read

New ESG regulations shift the needle towards ‘Social’

blue spiral staircase

New ESG regulations shift the needle towards ‘Social’ with 23% of companies citing domestic modern slavery laws as their biggest regulatory concern

  • Social governance is catching up with environmental compliance, with 23% of corporates noting modern slavery laws as their biggest regulatory driver, compared to 15% prioritising the CSRD 
  • ESG is firmly on the corporate agenda with 66% of companies  expecting ESG budgets to increase in the next five years, with a greater allocation toward social issues – 58% of investors also expect budgets to increase 
  • 25% of investors rank the CSDDD as their most significant issue 

20 March 2024 – London – S-RM, leading global intelligence and cyber security consultancy, has today published its ESG Report 2024 which reveals corporate concerns are shifting from the traditional environmental issues to social – with human rights and modern slavery, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) and community programmes taking centre stage amongst corporate ESG strategies. 

In 2024 the landscape of ESG considerations has taken a seismic shift as companies re-evaluate their priorities. According to S-RM’s recent findings, social governance is going to be a bigger strategic and budgetary priority for a substantial portion of companies over the next five years. 

Regulatory concerns 

Nearly a quarter (23%) of corporations have identified 'domestic modern slavery laws' as their foremost regulatory concern, compared to 15% prioritising the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive). This focus underscores the growing acknowledgment of the importance of social issues and human rights in ESG strategies. 

Despite the higher threshold of the recently-passed CSDDD in Europe, only 13% of corporates considered it the most important regulation for them to consider, suggesting that they may be caught out as the EU progresses its ESG agenda in coming years.  

Further to this, approximately one-quarter of both investors (24%) and corporates (26%) lack awareness of social issues or challenges within their industry, underscoring a critical knowledge gap.

Some of the negativity surrounding ESG come from considering it purely as an asset class, when ideally it should be integrated into the governance structures of a company. This lack of understanding poses significant operational risks to businesses that do not consider the direction of travel, potentially impacting reputation, stakeholder relationships, and long-term sustainability. Addressing this gap is crucial for integrating social considerations into ESG frameworks effectively. 

ESG alive and well 

The momentum towards Social is further emphasised by the anticipation of increased ESG budgets over the coming years. A remarkable 66% of companies expect their ESG budgets to rise within the next five years, with a substantial allocation earmarked for addressing social concerns. This trend not only highlights the evolving corporate approach to ESG but also underscores its emergence as a crucial commercial driver. 


Natalie Stafford, Director and Head of ESG at S-RM, said: 

 "At S-RM, we recognise the continued importance of addressing the social elements within ESG strategies. Our survey has highlighted the widespread lack of confidence that the Social pillar of ESG is being sufficiently tended to, with risks mitigated and value exploited across both investor and corporate groups. There is a clear consensus that Social risks are rising up the corporate and investor agendas, driven by a combination of employee retention, shareholder pressure, board instruction, regulation and legislation, and consumer and client demand.” 

Our findings demonstrate that in the corporate world, ESG remains firmly on the board agenda, supported with growing budgets among 66% of companies. We’re observing a shift towards increased budgets tackling social issues specifically over the next five years.

For more information, access the full ESG Report 2024 on S-RM's official website here: https://www.s-rminform.com/esg-report-2024 


The ESG Report 2024 is based on S-RM research and a survey  conducted by Coleman Parkes between 4 December 2023 and 9 January 2024. Respondents comprised: 550 senior ESG decision makers with corporate organisations plus 200 senior ESG decision makers within investment firms. Investors were asked to comment on the businesses within their portfolios, rather than their own organisations. 

For more information, access the full ESG Report 2024 on S-RM's official website here: https://www.s-rminform.com/esg-report-2024 

About S-RM

S-RM is a global intelligence and cyber security consultancy with expertise in insurance, cyber security, and cyber response. Headquartered in London, S-RM works across 9 international offices and advises companies ranging from blue-chip corporates to large financial institutions, and beyond.  

To find out more about S-RM, visit https://www.s-rminform.com/ 

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