The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) describes the accountability of private corporations for sustainable development. In light of several financial crises and corporate scandals, the issue is increasingly attracting the notice of the German and European legislators. The research retraces the progression of CSR to a legal benchmark, addresses the question of how legal norms transform CSR aspects into mandatory standards of good corporate governance and how this impacts the corporate governance regime as a whole. Considering the governance structure in the German stock corporation, the management plays a decisive role when it comes to the implementation of CSR in a "top-down approach". However, CSR as a stakeholder-based concept also requires a "bottom-up approach" through supervisory board, shareholders' meeting and corporate reporting in order to match the corporate governance standards with relevant stakeholder interests.