Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate an initiative designed to introduce business students to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through researching, reporting and reflecting on authentic corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. Through this initiative, business students develop first-hand experience with organisational sustainability efforts through examining CSR reporting against the SDGs. Students are prompted to analyse organisational behaviour to form their own judgements, and increase awareness of social, ethical and environmental organisational practices. Design/methodology/approach An experiential learning activity is introduced that was developed in partnership with the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) network, and WikiRate, an online CSR reporting platform, employing the SDGs as a framework. In this paper, we present a pilot study on the initiative in order to examine and evaluate student perceptions of the activity, and their post-activity reflections on CSR and the SDGs. Findings This paper offers educators a practical way to meet curriculum challenges for teaching students the theory and practical applications of sustainable business.