In December 2019, SEBI mandated that top 1000 listed companies in India, as per market capitalization, must produce Business Responsibility Reports (BRR), a disclosure of adoption of responsible business practices by a listed company to all its stakeholders. BRR describes the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performances and initiatives of the company in the financial year using the format as specified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). This is important considering the fact that these companies have accessed funds from the public, have an element of public interest involved, and are obligated to make exhaustive disclosures on a regular basis. Business Responsibility Reporting is applicable to all types of companies including manufacturing, services etc.
The current format for BRR is based on the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs) issued in 2011 by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA). These guidelines were also updated as the National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC) in 2019.
Further, Business Responsibility Report has been designed as a tool to help companies
understand the principles and core elements of responsible business practices and start
implementing improvements which reflect their adoption in the manner the company
undertakes its business. As we gained more maturity in reporting, the regulatory body understood the importance of revamping the reporting format, especially aligning the format with updated guidelines provided through NGRBC,2019.
BUSINESS RESPONSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY REPORT
The committee constituted by Ministry of Corporate Affairs on Business Responsibility Reporting for finalising Business Responsibility Reporting formats based on the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC) framework proposed Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) instead of Business Responsibility Report (BRR). On 11th August 2020, MCA issued the report of the committee which prescribed format for Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR), and subsequently issued a consultation paper. The report proposes to make BRSR format reporting mandatory for top 1,000 listed companies by market capitalisation in the coming years.
To access the text of the report issued by MCA, please click here.
To access the text of the consultation paper issued by SEBI, please click here.
BRSR VS BRR
BRSR is intended as a singular source of non financial/sustainability information with standard and consistent framework. It is highly data driven reporting , compared to the earlier theoretical BRR, with data points on operations in categories, employees, CSR details, grievance redressal (NGBRC mandated) details, value chain, labour welfare etc. The new format, BRSR is very exhaustive and is almost three times larger with approximate 77 pages than the earlier BRR format of 13 page document. The companies are also expected to digitally update the data in the portal so as to have a robust database with comparable data for the stakeholders.
BRSR focuses on globally recognized and locally relevant indicators. All relevant information on sustainability emanating from the NGRBCs, SDGs and UNGPs are contained in the new format.
Sustainable production , with focus on raw material procurement, waste disposal, and recycling are recognized challenges and have been incorporated in to the BRSR.
A section on stakeholder engagement is added that includes disclosures on process to identify key stakeholder groups, communication and engagement channels with stakeholders, etc. The report focuses on materiality; key issues that are important for the organization and its stakeholders. The report is Intended to serve all business stakeholders , viz. investors, other businesses, consumers, governments, citizens, and other interested entities and individuals. Hence, the organization is expected to capture the materiality issues through proper means and consultations and report it in the prescribed format.
BENFITS OF SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING
Aside from the regulatory reason, the reporting is very important to an organization for multiple reasons. 26% of total assets managed globally are already under socially responsible investment and Indian investment firms are picking up pace with SBI Mutual Fund, Kotak Mutual Fund, Avendus Capital and Quantum advisors leading the way. Business Responsibility Report, which focuses on governance is the first document any investor or assessor looks for in India for Sustainable Investing. The companies with better disclosure and better sustainability practices enjoy better financial leverage and investor trust.
In addition to this, multiple studies* showed the correlation between performance of a company over the long term and level of disclosure of a company in non-financial parameters such as environment, social and governance parameters. Sustainability reporting helps identify non-financial value drivers and sustainability risks & opportunities. This ensure business continuity and differentiation for sustainability leaders. Through the process of sustainability reporting, the management arrives at a common understanding of value creation process, including short, medium and long term value. It also leads to improved data quality, resulting in better management of information and better decision making.
Sustainability reporting, especially in the proposed format given as Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) gives benefits to companies beyond regulatory requirement. Large companies and the ones that currently falls under the mandate of BRR, must take cognizance of the additional requirements provided in the new format of BRSR and update their capability in terms of systems, policies, data management and initiatives, to prepare for the upcming regulations and changing expectation of the stakeholders.
To assess the level of preparedness for your organization and to bridge the gap for a sustainable future, reach out to our experts at email@example.com for free consultation.
* Oxford university and Arabesque partners, ‘From the Stockholder to the Stakeholder: How Sustainability can drive Financial Outperformance’, 2015
*Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management, ‘ESG and corporate Financial Performance: Mapping the Global Landscape’, 2015