BRSR Framework: A Holistic Approach To Business Responsibility & Sustainability

by | Dec 10, 2023 | ESG, Sustainability

Home » Sustainability » BRSR Framework: A Holistic Approach To Business Responsibility & Sustainability

SEBI established the BRSR framework, requiring certain listed businesses to provide ESG information as a mandated process. The BRSR framework intends to increase transparency and encourage businesses to pursue responsible and sustainable business practices. BRSR, or Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting, is compulsory for India’s top 1000 listed firms (by market capitalization). The BRSR framework’s goal is to encourage sustainability among publicly traded enterprises. The framework is intended to assist publicly traded firms in improving their sustainability performance by offering a framework for assessing and managing their ESG impacts. The framework is also expected to help listed companies improve their transparency and credibility by releasing information about their sustainability performance to stakeholders.

The BRSR Framework

The BRSR framework was developed in response to the need for the seamless integration and alignment of numerous regulatory frameworks and compliance requirements covering environmental, social, and governance criteria. SEBI guarantees that companies in India adhere to responsible business practices and publicly disclose their non-financial measures and sustainability goals by providing a standardized reporting format. Companies are expected to publish their BRSR report with their annual report, which integrates financial performance and ESG disclosures. This alignment of financial and non-financial disclosures provides a clear picture of a company’s operations.

SEBI requires corporations to publish the following information in their BRSR reports on a broad level:

  • Operational environmental and social effect
  • Facts about stakeholder involvement and materiality
  • Management Strategy for Sustainability
  • Data on energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and water consumption
  • Workplace health and safety practices
  • Activities for community engagement and development
  • Policies promoting diversity and equal opportunity
  • Anti-corruption and business ethics measures
  • Information on human rights and labour practices throughout the supply chain
  • Adherence to appropriate laws and regulations

The data necessary for disclosure will vary depending on the company’s size, industry, location, impacts and dependencies, and the sustainability reporting framework or standard employed. However, some frequent data items that businesses may be obligated to publish are as follows:

  • Environmental impact: Data on the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, trash generation, and other environmental effects.
  • Social effect: Details on the company’s influence on employees, communities, and human rights, such as working conditions, employee involvement, and diversity and inclusion.
  • Governance and risk management: Information about the company’s governance structure, risk management processes, and internal controls.
  • Supply chain sustainability: Information regarding suppliers’ sustainability practices, such as labour practices, environmental performance, and human rights.
  • Financial performance: Data about the company’s financial performance, such as revenue, expenses, and profit margins.
  • Material issues and stakeholder engagement: Information regarding the company’s interactions with consumers, employees, suppliers, communities, and other vital organizations. Information on the company’s sustainability aims and objectives, including specific targets and progress towards attaining those criteria.

Not all businesses will have data on these issues, and some companies may report on additional data points relevant to their industry or sector. However, the information released should be relevant, material, and transparent, giving stakeholders a comprehensive picture of the company’s social and environmental performance.

A Brief Review of the BRSR Framework

The BRSR is divided into three components, the purpose and organization of which are described below:

Section A: General Information

This section aims to gather basic information about the company, such as its size, location, goods, number of employees, CSR initiatives, etc. The proposed forms include extra disclosures about a company’s operations’ closeness to environmentally sensitive sites such as protected areas, water-stressed zones, etc.

Section B: Management and Process

In this section, the organization must publish information on policies and processes related to the NGRBC Principles of leadership, governance, and stakeholder engagement. Companies have been asked to give links to their websites where these policies are available.

This part aims to determine whether the company has the foundation to enable and ensure responsible business activity. It represents the view that policies and processes are fundamental to subsequent action.

Section C: Performance based on principles

Responses to Section C reveal how a company performs with each NGRBC Principle and Core Element. Companies must demonstrate their aim and commitment to responsible business behaviour through activities and outcomes under this provision.

This section’s questions are separated into two categories:

1. Essential: Those that are required for all businesses.

2. Voluntary leadership: Allowing enterprises to present their influence and outcomes. It is envisaged that questions from the Leadership category will be transferred to the Essential type in the following review cycle. Thus, corporations should consider this a path to a more thorough disclosure regime.

Benefits of the BRSR Reporting Framework

  • Improved Transparency: BRSR increases transparency by mandating corporations to declare their ESG performance and activities, providing stakeholders with critical decision-making information.
  • Stakeholder Trust: Effective BRSR implementation can increase stakeholder trust in a company’s commitment to sustainable and responsible practices.
  • Risk Mitigation: BRSR assists firms in more effectively identifying and managing ESG risks, allowing them to minimize possible negative implications on their business operations and reputation.
  • Access to Capital: Companies demonstrating strong ESG performance and reporting may attract a broader spectrum of investors, including those interested in sustainable investing.
  • Competitive Advantage: Implementing and adhering to BRSR can position organizations as sustainability leaders, differentiating them in the market and attracting ecologically and socially conscientious customers.

Key Components and Structure of the BRSR Framework

The BRSR is divided into three portions, A, B, and C, as detailed below:

1. Section A – General disclosures about operational, financial, and ownership information

2. Section B– Management and Process Disclosures address the structures, policies, and processes for integrating the NGRBCs.

3. Section C – Performance indicators covering how healthy enterprises perform about the NGRBCs.

The following sections are commonly included in the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Framework:

Key Components and Structure of the BRSR Framework

  • ESG Performance: Comprehensive information about the company’s environmental, social, and governance performance, including emissions, resource usage, and labour practices.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Details regarding the company’s interactions with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers, and communities.
  • Material Concerns: Discuss the company’s significant sustainability concerns and how it tackles them through its sustainability strategy and activities.
  • Goals and Targets: Information on the company’s sustainability goals and targets and its progress towards meeting them.
  • Assurance and Verification: Details on the processes and procedures used to validate the correctness and dependability of the sustainability data presented in the report.
  • Future Priorities: A description of the company’s future sustainability priorities and plans for improving its performance.

The preceding list needs to be more inclusive, and depending on the company’s specific needs and reporting requirements, some reports may include extra components.

The decision to implement a sustainability framework is influenced by various factors such as the organization’s goals, values, size, industry, and geography. Here are some things to think about when deciding on a framework:

  • Determine the core goal of the sustainability effort, Such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions, boosting social responsibility, or increasing resource efficiency.
  • Value alignment: Choose a framework that aligns with the values and priorities of the organization.
  • Industry-specific sustainability standards exist, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for reporting sustainability performance and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for responsible forest management.
  • Geography: Depending on local rules and cultural attitudes towards sustainability, alternative frameworks may be more appropriate in different countries or regions.
  • Size and complexity: Larger organizations may need more comprehensive frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, TCFD, ISO 26000, or the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whereas smaller organizations may benefit from more straightforward frameworks, such as the Triple Bottom Line.
  • Stakeholder Mix: Consider the framework’s ability to involve stakeholders while providing applicable reporting and information.
  • Cost and feasibility: Determine the cost and resources necessary to develop and maintain the framework and its compatibility with existing systems and procedures.

How Does the BRSR Framework Support Responsible Business Growth?

BRSR has various advantages. For starters, it offers a comprehensive framework that covers a wide range of sustainability themes like administration, social responsibility, ethical behaviour, the sustainability of the environment, and economic performance. This enables Indian businesses to report on sustainability comprehensively. Second, its conformity with global standards streamlines sustainability reporting to overseas stakeholders increasingly interested in sustainability performance. Third, making sustainability reporting mandatory for the top 1,000 listed companies provides a consistent standard, ultimately increasing sustainability reporting across India.

BRSR does, however, have several flaws. Due to the numerous requirements, it can be complex and challenging to implement, making it tough for businesses to determine relevant ones. Furthermore, because the framework is new, reporting requirements may need to be clarified, resulting in errors in reporting.

BRSR seeks to increase openness while also encouraging responsible and sustainable business practices. Global sustainability standards, which include the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), are closely associated with BRSR. This alignment enables businesses to declare their sustainability performance by international norms, making it more appealing to investors and stakeholders. For example, BRSR has the same nine principles as the GRI and has similar reporting standards. Indian enterprises adopting BRSR can also meet the GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

Several aspects of BRSR should be improved. First, simplification and ease of implementation can be achieved by decreasing requirements and providing more explicit reporting rules and implementation support. Second, increasing clarity by providing additional examples of reporting on various sustainability themes will benefit businesses. Finally, broadening the framework to include other sustainability topics such as human rights and labor practices. It would expand its scope.

Companies may take the following procedures to comply with BRSR:

  • Knowledge of the BRSR structure and guidelines: Read the BRSR rules and regulations to understand the standard’s criteria and expectations.
  • Examine your current condition (as-is): Conduct an in-depth analysis of your strategy, operations, and governance practices, including your supply chain, products, and services, to identify areas where modifications are required to satisfy BRSR criteria.
  • Create a sustainability (ESG) strategy: Based on the results of your evaluation, this strategy should detail the activities you will take to satisfy BRSR criteria.
  • Deploy the sustainability plan: Implement your sustainability strategy, making necessary adjustments to your governance, operations, and supply chain to fulfil BRSR criteria.
  • Monitor and report on progress: Track your progress towards fulfilling BRSR criteria regularly and send regular reports to stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, and regulators.
  • Improve continuously: Review and update your sustainability strategy and plan regularly to verify that you are achieving BRSR criteria and progressing toward your sustainability goals. If you require more assistance in meeting BRSR regulations, it is critical to seek the advice of sustainability and compliance professionals.

Bottom Line

Before implementing BRSR, numerous sustainability reporting frameworks were in use in India. However, because these standards were optional, inconsistency and poor comparability of reporting among enterprises resulted. Because of this lack of standardization, investors and stakeholders found it difficult to assess the sustainability performance of various companies—furthermore, existing frameworks covered only some critical sustainability themes relevant to stakeholders. Several frameworks should have addressed issues such as human rights and labour practices. The introduction of BRSR addressed these issues by establishing a mandated framework that included various sustainability problems.

This has allowed stakeholders to compare companies’ sustainability performance more informally. The SEBI BRSR framework represents a crucial step towards standardized ESG reporting for India’s listed corporations. By matching financial and non-financial disclosures, BRSR reporting encourages openness, accountability, and responsible business conduct. Companies will be better positioned to manage ESG risks and opportunities, attract global investors, and achieve long-term sustainable growth as corporate India embraces the BRSR framework.

FAQs

Q1. What distinguishes BRSR from other sustainability reporting frameworks?

BRSR is unusual in that it is a voluntary framework tailored to Indian businesses that is intended to match Indian laws, regulations, and social and environmental concerns. BRSR also emphasizes governance and ethics, which are not included in many sustainability reporting formats.

Q2. How can businesses become ready for BRSR reporting?

Understanding the framework and its components, interacting with stakeholders, conducting analyses of their social, environmental, and economic impacts, and implementing sustainable practices and policies can help businesses prepare for BRSR reporting.

Q3. How might BRSR reporting help businesses?

Companies can benefit from BRSR reporting by improving their reputation, strengthening relationships with stakeholders, detecting potential risks and opportunities, and supporting sustainable practices and policies. BRSR reporting can also contribute to the economy’s overall sustainable development.

Also Read: What Is An ESG Score? And How To Calculate It?

 

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