BRSR Standards And Their Impact On Indian Business

by | Oct 11, 2023 | Sustainability

Home » Sustainability » BRSR Standards And Their Impact On Indian Business

Investors are provided with standardized information on a company’s ESG parameters via the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR), enabling the recognition and assessment of sustainability-related hazards and potential benefits for the company and better-informed investment decisions. The Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report is a crucial step forward in India’s transition to total Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting. This article will explore BRSR Standards and its essential rules in India related to business sustainability.

A Deep Dive into the BRSR Standards

In India, the BRSR framework is optional for smaller listed corporations and unlisted public or private companies. Such businesses can still voluntarily embrace the BRSR Standards, but the reporting costs will almost certainly outweigh any potential investment or other benefits. There are very few mandated ESG disclosure obligations outside India’s BRSR Standards. These include, for example, disclosures about energy efficiency in Indian companies’ annual reports and remarks in board reports about compliance with laws preventing sexual harassment.

For now, ESG reporting is only a priority for large-cap corporations. Still, smaller companies, particularly those seeking private financing from VC or PE funds, should consider their ESG risks and potential. Furthermore, ESG concerns will enter credit assessments by banks and several private lenders shortly. The Reserve Bank of India, India’s banking regulator, is allegedly considering establishing ESG-based lending criteria.

Smaller businesses should look to tighten their compliance practices for the numerous regulations that apply to their firm and entail ESG issues. As a starting point, these businesses can consult the MCA ESG Guidelines, which identified 37 essential rules in India that are related to business sustainability. Smaller companies can improve their ESG scores by adopting specific KPIs from the BRSR (rather than the entire BRSR), considering KPIs from other, more specialized reporting frameworks – such as the B Impact Assessment, Future-Fit Business Benchmark, and Impact Reporting and Investment Standards – and considering adopting the ISO 26000 standard, which provides social responsibility guidance.

Organizations can profit from the Business Responsibility and Sustainability (BRS) report in various ways. Here are some significant benefits:

BRSR Standards And Their Impact On Indian Business

1. Improved reputation: A company’s commitment to ethical practices, sustainability, and social responsibility is demonstrated by the publication of a BRS report. It promotes trust and credibility among consumers, investors, employees, and the general public, resulting in a better reputation.

2. Engagement of stakeholders: The BRS report provides a forum for open communication and engagement with stakeholders. It enables organizations to discuss their sustainability initiatives, environmental consequences, social contributions, and future goals with stakeholders, building meaningful relationships and encouraging active participation.

3. Competitive advantage: A well-structured and thorough BRS report can distinguish an organization from its competitors. It demonstrates the company’s environmental performance, innovation, and forward-thinking approach, establishing it as a market leader and attracting customers and investors who value ethical and sustainable practices.

4. Risk management: The BRS report aids in the identification and management of potential hazards related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. Organizations can proactively manage these risks by identifying and disclosing them and minimizing potential legal, reputational, or operational problems.

5. Savings and efficiency: Focusing on sustainability frequently results in cost savings and greater operational efficiency. Companies can emphasize reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, optimizing supply chains, and adopting sustainable practices through the BRS report, resulting in lower resource use and associated expenses.

6. Regulatory compliance: Many countries have business sustainability and social responsibility legislation and reporting obligations. Creating a BRS report assists organizations in complying with these requirements and staying current on new standards, ensuring they operate legally.

7. Investor attraction and capital access: When making investment decisions, investors are increasingly considering ESG factors. A detailed BRS report highlights a company’s long-term profitability and sustainable practices, making it more appealing to socially conscious investors. It can also help organizations gain access to sustainable investment funds and capital providers who prioritize organizations with high ESG performance.

8. Employee retention and engagement: The BRS report is a tool for engaging employees and aligning them with the organization’s sustainability goals. It emphasizes the company’s commitment to ethical and responsible practices, instilling in employees a sense of pride and purpose. As a result, employee happiness, retention, and productivity may improve.

9. Future-proofing and innovation: The BRS report’s emphasis on sustainability urges organizations to develop creative ideas and technology that reduce environmental impact while improving social results. It motivates organizations to adapt to shifting market trends, customer needs, and regulatory obligations to ensure long-term sustainability and resilience.

10. Positive society impact: Finally, the BRS report promotes sustainable practices, ethical company behavior, and connection with local communities, all leading to positive societal impact. It enables organizations to solve social and environmental concerns while linking corporate aims with larger sustainable development objectives.

Overall, the BRSR Standards provide various advantages, from enhanced reputation and stakeholder involvement to risk management, cost reductions, and capital access. It assists organizations in becoming more long-term sustainable, resilient, and successful.

BRSR Standards: Aligning Indian Corporates with Global ESG Metrics

The journey of India achieving meaningful Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting has seen substantial growth and evolution. Adopting the MCA’s Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) standards in 2009 provided the groundwork for ESG regulatory frameworks and disclosures. The Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) was created in 2021 as a stepping stone towards constructing a broader and more comprehensive ESG reporting system. By offering a beginning point for ESG reporting in India, BRR played a critical role in preparing the way for BRSR. The reporting landscape grew over a decade, demanding a more comprehensive and sophisticated structure to meet the complicated ESG disclosure requirements and worldwide quality standards prominent in today’s sustainable reporting arena. The SEBI mandated ESG reporting in 2012, naming it the Business Responsibility Report (BRR). The mandate initially applied to India’s top 100 listed firms based on market capitalization. However, as the importance of ESG reporting developed and the necessity for a complete framework became apparent, the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) was created in 2021.

The transition from BRR to BRSR in India represents a substantial shift towards complete ESG reporting. BRSR provides a more uniform and comprehensive approach to ESG disclosures, catering to the changing needs of the sustainable reporting landscape. The new methodology efficiently tackles reporting accuracy and depth gaps while adhering to global best practices.

The Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) framework has expanded to 140 questions, divided into 98 core and 42 leadership indicators. The shift to mandated ESG reporting via BRSR is a strategic move in India to build a more responsible and sustainable business landscape. Companies are urged to establish determined sustainability-related targets actively, describe their social, environmental, and governance progress, and demonstrate their commitment to responsible business practices by imposing this comprehensive reporting framework. Businesses are encouraged to look further into their ESG performance through the BRSR, highlighting areas for development and innovation. The extensive questionnaire allows for a detailed examination of their operations, ensuring that they address key sustainability concerns, manage risks, and capitalize on possibilities linked with global sustainability objectives.

Embracing the BRSR enables businesses to link their strategy with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fostering equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development while protecting human rights and safeguarding the environment. Companies can show their commitment to long-term asset creation, stakeholder involvement, and sustainable growth by addressing the risks and possibilities in their sustainability journey.

Furthermore, BRSR promotes transparency and accountability, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions based on consistent and trustworthy ESG disclosures. This thorough reporting mechanism catalyzes revolutionary change, enabling businesses to incorporate sustainability into their core operations and implement best practices with a beneficial social and environmental impact. Businesses that embrace the BRSR become important drivers of India’s sustainable development journey, helping to build a resilient economy that balances profit and purpose. Companies may improve their reputation, increase investor trust, and be seen as responsible corporate citizens committed to creating a sustainable future for all by embracing the potential of comprehensive ESG reporting.

Practical Challenges and Solutions in Meeting BRSR Standards

Challenges in meeting BRSR Standards

  • Data Gathering: The time-consuming data collection process constantly challenges BRSR reporting. Indeed, generating BRSR data requires information from various internal and external sources, including multiple departments within your organization, supply chain partners, competitors in the industry, and third-party data suppliers.
  • Data Administration and Verification: Your data has been collected, but it must still be handled and checked for accuracy, completeness, and dependability. It’s normal for organizations to be concerned about the BRSR reporting difficulty of data management and verification.
  • Communication and Engagement with Stakeholders: Another common issue in BRSR reporting is managing stakeholder relationships, which is crucial to moving your sustainability projects forward. On the one hand, regular involvement sheds light on stakeholder expectations, enables the collection of pertinent data, and promotes trust. On the other hand, communication ensures that BRSR information reaches stakeholders on time, which is critical for encouraging accountability and informed decision-making. However, it is easier said than done. With so many moving variables, it cannot be easy to please everyone while advancing your team’s most important BRSR goals.
  • BRSR Factors Measuring and Quantifying: Despite this being an important step, organizations frequently need help to adequately evaluate and quantify their sustainability programs’ effectiveness. The subjective nature of BRSR elements, the lack of standardized measurements, and the complexity of capturing the intangible aspects of sustainability success can all contribute to these challenges.

Solutions in meeting BRSR Standards

  • Elevate the intangible: Create novel techniques to capture and express the intangible components of your BRSR performance. One strategy is to use qualitative indicators and storytelling in addition to quantitative measurements. This enables organizations to present a comprehensive view of their BRSR performance, including qualitative accomplishments that may be difficult to quantify but are noteworthy.
  • Engage ESG reporting specialists: Seek advice from ESG reporting professionals or consultants who are well-versed in various sustainability frameworks and the ESG reporting process. These specialists can offer valuable insights, aid in interpreting sustainability principles and standards, and make recommendations for effective reporting and narrative presentation.
  • Make use of ESG reporting software: Use ESG reporting software solutions that are specifically built to fit with industry best practices. If you seek a specific framework or standard, ensure the software is certified. These software applications frequently provide built-in capabilities and templates that streamline the reporting process while assuring compliance with particular requirements.

You can overcome the BRSR above reporting issues with innovative tactics and approaches. Data collection and verification improvements, communication with stakeholders, and the measurement and quantification of ESG elements are all achievable. As a result, you not only have more effective and accurate BRSR reporting, but you also have a solid platform for sustainable and responsible business practices.

Conclusion

The Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) is a crucial step forward in India’s transition to total Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting. The framework marks a watershed moment in the change from optional to mandatory ESG reporting, intending to improve compliance, uniformity, and disclosure of non-financial disclosures across Indian corporations. Companies who embrace the BRSR are urged to set aspirational sustainability goals, explain accomplishments, and reveal the possibilities and dangers they face in their sustainability journey.

The BRSR is built on transparency and accountability, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions based on trustworthy and standardized ESG disclosures. This shift towards full reporting positions Indian corporations as responsible long-term growth drivers, building a robust economy that balances profit and purpose. As India strives to meet its net zero goals and make substantial progress in the global sustainability landscape, BRSR is essential in helping businesses towards a more sustainable future. By adopting this reporting methodology, companies contribute to India’s commitment to sustainability, forging a path towards a greener and more prosperous nation for future generations.

FAQs

Q1. What exactly is BRSR reporting by Indian firms?

SEBI implemented the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) framework in 2021 as a required reporting requirement for India’s top 1,000 listed firms. BRSR seeks to increase openness while encouraging sustainable and environmentally sound business practices.

Q2. What is the purpose of a business responsibility report?

The Business Responsibility Report is intended to give basic information about the organization, performance and process information, and the concepts and fundamental elements of Business Responsibility Reporting.

Q3. What’s the distinction between GRI and BRSR?

The BRSR criteria are based on the fiscal year, whereas the GRI Standards are based on the reporting period. The reporting period for the GRI Standards could be the fiscal year, but it could also be something else. Some BRSR indicators require data for both the current and preceding fiscal years.

Also Read: Sebi ESG Rules: Stringent But In Right Direction

 

Author

  • Dr. Tanushree Kain

    Tanushree is a passionate Environmentalist with a Doctorate in Environmental Sciences. She is also a Gold medalist in Master of Science (M.Sc), Environmental Sciences. She has 6 years of experience as a guest faculty in Environmental Sciences. With her combination of technical knowledge and research expertise, she can create clear, accurate, and engaging content that helps users get the maximum information regarding environmental topics.

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1 Comment

  1. devulapalli ravindra

    Useful information as per title..but implementing process with key stakeholders in supply chain & end use segments awareness.
    Self worked +30 years with chemistry background in Laboratory operations, Quality control management and passion towards Regulatory aspects in Cement,Coke Calcination & Co-generation of power in manfacturing industry. P.G. diploma in Ecology and Environment from Indian Institute of Ecology & Environment- New Delhi during 1994 .
    Eager to work further in the present scenario ESG with QMS&EMS function expertise.

    Reply

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