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Climate change adaptation and mitigation, inclusive growth, and the shift to a sustainable economy have recently emerged as critical global challenges. Investors and other stakeholders are increasingly looking for responsible and sustainable enterprises in terms of the environment and society. As a result, BRSR reporting on a company’s performance in terms of sustainability-related criteria has become just as important as reporting on financial and operational performance.
Non-financial reporting is gaining popularity worldwide as more businesses become aware of the negative consequences of their operations on the environment and climate change. The emphasis on non-financial reporting has caused a shift in business strategies towards a more sustainable approach. Several organizations, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), have begun to develop standardized reporting formats for corporations’ non-financial disclosures. In response to increasing investor pressure for increased transparency and non-financial reporting, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) mandated ESG reporting in India in 2012.
The Business Responsibility Report (BRR) was their version of ESG reporting, and it was compulsory by SEBI that the top 100 listed firms in India by market capitalization publish a BRR. The goal of this disclosure was to allow businesses to interact and communicate with their stakeholders in a more engaging and relevant way. The BRR was designed to encourage firms to go beyond regulatory financial compliance and include reporting on social and environmental implications.
Section 135 of the Companies Act, established in 2013, requires firms to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects with a clear preference for local communities and defines regulations for CSR governance, budgeting, and expenditure. It developed the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals and reviewed procedures for tracking targets utilizing indicators through this agenda. Revising the NVGs began in 2015 to match them with the UN SDGs.
Due to heightened scrutiny on sustainable reporting at the time and increased investor awareness, SEBI extended the number of companies required to submit for BRR to the top 500 listed companies in India by market capitalization beginning in FY 2015-2016. Following multiple updates of the NVGs in response to growing worldwide concerns about ESG reporting and sustainable development, the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC) were launched in 2019 as a revised version of the NVGs.
These recommendations were created to help businesses embrace the notion of responsible behavior that extends beyond regulatory compliance constraints. Soon after, SEBI ordered that the top 1000 listed companies on the stock exchange by market capitalization provide BRRs as part of their annual reports.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) standardized ESG disclosures for listed businesses, upon which the Business Responsibility and Sustainability (BRSR) rules were established.
BRSR reporting significant highlights include the following:
In India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) mandated ESG reporting in 2012. The Business Responsibility Report (BRR) was their version of ESG reporting, and it was compulsory by SEBI that the top 100 listed firms in India by market capitalization file a BRR. BRR will have grown into BRSR by 2021, making it a comprehensive ESG reporting methodology. It has also successfully filled reporting gaps in terms of accuracy and depth.
The primary goal of this reporting structure is to act as an internal tool for organizations looking to align with the NGRBC. There are three sections to the BRSR reporting structure:
This section gathers fundamental information and details about the listed entity, such as its products and services, operations, staff, transparency and disclosure standards and compliances, subsidiary firms, holdings, joint ventures, etc.
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 section’s disclosure requirements primarily concern inquiries about oversight, governance, leadership, and management practices.
Companies must demonstrate their aim and commitment to responsible business behavior through activities and outcomes under this provision. In this regard, businesses must report on KPIs in compliance with the NGRBC‘s nine principles of responsible business conduct.
Furthermore, organizations must report on two parameters for each principle, which are:
Essential Indicators (Mandatory)
The indicators the firm must report include environmental data such as energy, emissions, water, and trash; training; community efforts made by the company; and social effects created by the organization.
Leadership Indicators (Voluntary)
These indicators still need to be disclosed by the company. However, there is a broader expectation that corporations will comply with these measures to promote openness and accountability. This might involve reporting on scope 3 emissions and a breakdown of energy use and assessing the health and safety of value chain partners. The leadership indicators are concerned with providing a more comprehensive view of the company’s operations in terms of sustainability.
Principle 1: Businesses should operate and manage themselves with integrity in an ethical, transparent, and accountable manner.
Principle 2: Businesses should deliver goods and services sustainably and safely.
Principle 3: All employees, even those in their value chains, should be valued and encouraged by organizations.
Principle 4: Businesses must respect and respond to the interests of all stakeholders.
Principle 5: Businesses must respect and promote human rights.
Principle 6: Businesses should respect the environment and strive to preserve and repair it.
Principle 7: Businesses should influence public and regulatory policy responsibly and openly.
Principle 8: Businesses should encourage inclusive and equitable growth.
Principle 9: Companies should interact with and responsibly deliver value to their customers.
• Increasing emphasis on climate change: Climate change is one of today’s most crucial sustainability concerns. As a result, there is an increased emphasis on climate-related reporting. Reporting on greenhouse gas emissions, climate change adaptation strategies, and other climate-related risks and possibilities are all part of this.
• The rise of integrated reporting: Integrated reporting is a reporting technique that combines financial and non-financial data. This method is gaining traction as organizations strive to present a more comprehensive picture of their sustainability performance. Governance, strategy, performance, and outlook are shared in integrated reporting frameworks such as the IIRC’s International Integrated Reporting Framework (IIRC).
• Rising push for more thorough BRSR: A rising push for more comprehensive BRSR exists. Companies must report on broader sustainability issues, such as human rights, labor practices, and environmental effects. This aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which encourage businesses to report on their sustainability performance across various issues.
• Increasing reliance on metrics and targets: Companies rely on metrics and targets to assess their sustainability performance. This contributes to more objective and comparable reporting.
• Increased emphasis on stakeholder engagement: Businesses increasingly interact with their stakeholders on sustainability concerns. This helps to guarantee that businesses are aware of their stakeholders’ issues and are taking action to resolve those concerns.
• Increased technological use: Technology is being used to increase the quality and efficiency of BRSR. Businesses, for example, use technology to collect data, analyze data, and generate reports.
These are just a few of the BRSR fundamental trends and modifications. Businesses will face increased pressure to report on their sustainability performance more entirely and transparently as the world becomes more aware of the need to address sustainability concerns.
The problem of establishing the appropriate reporting framework has been a significant component of sustainability reporting for enterprises in India. BRSR reporting solves this problem by establishing a consistent, transparent reporting format that all enterprises must follow in the future. The BRSR’s primary goal is to assist businesses in aligning their operations with the NGRBC. This directly contributes to the emphasis of a company’s operations on transparency and accountability.
There will continue to be obstacles in implementing BRSR in the future, such as a need for more sufficient skills to meet the reporting requirements. Businesses must try to bridge this gap by boosting their readiness to understand the criteria and design their strategies as per SEBI requirements. Overall, the corporate sector must try to satisfy the requirements of this new mandate while also accepting it in stride.
Q1. What elements comprise the BRSR report?
The four components of BRSR are governance and ethical, social, environmental, and economic.
Q2. What exactly is the BRSR framework?
BRSR is a standardized and consistent methodology developed with the changing worldwide trends in sustainability reporting in mind.
Q3. Is BRSR required in India?
SEBI specifies that till the fiscal year 2021-2022, the top 1000 listed businesses based on market capitalization must submit a BRR in their annual report; after that, in the fiscal year 2022-2023, such listed organizations must submit a BRSR.
Also Read: ESG Reporting Services