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Business Responsibility and Sustainability (BRSR) Reporting: Meet ESG Requirements

28th Sep, 2023
Business Responsibility and Sustainability (BRSR) Reporting: Meet ESG Requirements

In the ever-evolving landscape of business and finance, sustainability and responsible business practices have gained significant traction. The integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into decision-making processes has become paramount. As a response to this shift, BRSR reporting has emerged as a vital tool for companies to showcase their commitment to transparency, ethical practices, and long-term value creation. This article delves into the world of BRSR reporting, highlighting its significance, key differences from BRR reporting, NGRBC principles, scope, requirements, and the benefits it offers to organizations and stakeholders.

What is ESG Reporting?

ESG reporting has emerged as a critical framework for businesses to communicate their sustainability efforts. The acronym stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, encompassing a wide range of factors that reflect a company’s impact on the environment, its relationships with various stakeholders, and the effectiveness of its internal governance structures. The rising awareness among investors, consumers, and regulatory bodies about the implications of business operations on these areas has driven the demand for transparent ESG disclosures.

Environmental Considerations

The “E” in ESG refers to environmental factors, encompassing a wide range of considerations related to a company’s impact on the natural world. This includes issues such as carbon emissions, energy consumption, waste management, water usage, and biodiversity preservation. ESG reporting prompts businesses to disclose their efforts in reducing their carbon footprint, transitioning to renewable energy sources, implementing sustainable supply chain practices, and adopting technologies that mitigate environmental harm.

Social Responsibility

The “S” in ESG highlights social considerations that pertain to a company’s relationships with its employees, customers, communities, and other stakeholders. Social responsibility entails fair labor practices, employee well-being, diversity and inclusion, product safety, and community engagement. ESG reporting encourages companies to provide insights into their efforts to ensure safe and equitable working conditions, foster diversity at all levels of the organization, and contribute positively to the communities in which they operate.

Governance and Accountability

The “G” in ESG pertains to governance, which refers to the structures, policies, and practices that guide a company’s decision-making processes. Strong governance is essential to ensure transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct. ESG reporting delves into aspects such as board composition, executive compensation, shareholder rights, risk management, and anti-corruption measures.

What is BRSR?

BRSR, often referred to as Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting, is a comprehensive reporting framework that extends the principles of ESG reporting to focus on the broader responsibilities and impacts of businesses. The full form of BRSR, ‘Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting,’ encapsulates its core purpose: to assess and report a company’s commitment to responsible business practices and sustainable development. It goes beyond mere financial performance to capture the environmental, social, and governance dimensions of a company’s operations.

Difference Between BRSR and BRR Reporting

To understand the nuances of BRSR reporting, it’s crucial to differentiate it from another common reporting framework: BRR, or Business Responsibility Reporting. While both BRSR and BRR emphasize responsible business practices, they diverge in their scope and focus. BRR typically centers around environmental and social responsibilities, while BRSR takes a more holistic approach by incorporating sustainability factors as well. BRSR reporting sheds light on a company’s sustainable development initiatives, environmental footprint, social welfare activities, and governance structure.

Aspect BRR (Business Responsibility Reporting) BRSR (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting)
Focus Emphasis on ethical practices, business integrity, and social responsibilities. Expands beyond responsibility to encompass sustainability and ESG factors.
Scope Primarily covers ethical behavior, transparency, social welfare, and governance. Encompasses environmental conservation, social impact, sustainable development, and governance for sustainability.
Environmental Considerations May touch on limited environmental aspects, but not a primary focus. Places a strong emphasis on a company’s environmental impact and sustainable practices.
Social Impact Addresses social welfare initiatives and ethical conduct. Goes deeper into human rights, labor practices, supply chain ethics, and social equity.
Sustainable Development Not a core focus, although some initiatives may align with sustainability. Highlights strategies and actions toward long-term sustainable development.
ESG Integration Not inherently integrated; focuses on business responsibility. Inherently integrates ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) principles.
Strategic Implications Demonstrates commitment to ethics and social responsibility. Showcases commitment to sustainable development, environmental consciousness, and holistic stakeholder value.
Alignment with ESG Trends May not fully align with evolving ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) expectations. Aligns well with increasing emphasis on ESG integration in reporting.
Future Readiness May require additional reporting to address sustainability and ESG demands. Addresses both current and anticipated demands for sustainability and ESG disclosures.
Stakeholder Signalling Signals commitment to ethical conduct and social well-being. Signals proactive engagement with sustainability, environmental issues, and long-term value creation.

NGRBC (National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct) and NGRBC Principles.

At the core of BRSR reporting are the NGRBC principles, which provide a comprehensive framework for businesses to assess and report their commitment to responsible and sustainable practices. NGRBC stands for National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct, and it comprises nine principles that cover various aspects of business operations:

  1. Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior.
  2. Businesses should provide goods and services that are safe and contribute to sustainability.
  3. Businesses should promote the well-being of all employees.
  4. Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to stakeholders, especially those who are disadvantaged or marginalized.
  5. Businesses should respect and promote human rights.
  6. Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.
  7. Businesses, when engaged in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a responsible manner.
  8. Businesses should support inclusive growth and equitable development.
  9. Businesses should engage with and provide value to their customers and consumers in a responsible manner.

These principles guide businesses in aligning their operations with the broader goals of sustainability, responsible conduct, and positive societal impact.

Scope and Application of BRSR Reporting

The scope and application of BRSR (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting) extend far beyond traditional financial reporting, encapsulating a company’s commitment to ethical conduct, sustainable practices, and long-term value creation. BRSR reporting offers a structured framework for companies to communicate their responsible business initiatives and their impact on the environment, society, and governance. Understanding the scope and application of BRSR reporting is essential for companies seeking to align with evolving stakeholder expectations and regulatory demands.

Scope of BRSR Reporting

BRSR reporting casts a wide net over various dimensions of a company’s operations, reflecting its multifaceted impact on stakeholders and the world. The scope of BRSR reporting includes, but is not limited to:

  • Environmental Considerations: BRSR reporting dives into a company’s environmental footprint, addressing factors such as energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, and resource conservation.
  • Social Impact: BRSR reporting evaluates a company’s contributions to social welfare, encompassing aspects like diversity and inclusion, employee well-being, community engagement, and ethical supply chain practices.
  • Sustainable Development: Companies outline their strategies for sustainable growth, outlining how they balance economic prosperity with environmental and social concerns.
  • Governance for Sustainability: BRSR reporting assesses a company’s governance structures, ensuring they are aligned with sustainability objectives, climate risk management, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: BRSR reporting showcases how companies involve stakeholders in decision-making, respond to concerns, and incorporate feedback to foster transparency and inclusivity.
  • ESG Integration: BRSR reporting inherently integrates ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) principles, providing a comprehensive picture of a company’s performance and progress.

Application of BRSR Reporting

Currently, top 1,000 listed companies in India are required to furnish a Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) to the stock exchanges as a part of their annual reports. The BRSR report should describe the initiatives taken by the listed companies from an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) perspective, in the format as specified under BRR. Other listed companies may submit the BRR voluntarily.

  • Publicly Listed Companies: Companies listed on stock exchanges often face regulatory requirements for ESG reporting, making BRSR reporting a vital tool for compliance and demonstrating responsible conduct to investors.
  • Private Companies: Private companies are increasingly adopting BRSR reporting to attract investment, build reputation, and align with the growing emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices.
  • Sectors with Environmental Impact: Industries with significant environmental impact, such as energy, manufacturing, and transportation, can use BRSR reporting to showcase their efforts in minimizing harm and promoting sustainability.
  • Consumer-Facing Businesses: Companies that directly interact with consumers, such as retail, food, and technology companies, benefit from BRSR reporting by addressing consumer demands for ethical and sustainable products.
  • Financial Institutions: Banks, investment firms, and insurance companies integrate BRSR reporting to align their investments with ESG principles and manage risks associated with climate change and social issues.
  • Global Supply Chains: Companies with complex supply chains use BRSR reporting to enhance transparency and promote ethical practices among suppliers.

Requirements of BRSR Reporting

BRSR reporting entails providing detailed and structured information on various aspects of a company’s operations, strategies, and outcomes. The specific requirements can vary based on regulatory frameworks and industry standards, but generally encompass the following:

  • Data Collection and Disclosure: Companies gather data related to their environmental impact, social initiatives, and governance practices to provide comprehensive disclosures.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): BRSR reporting often involves reporting against predefined KPIs that measure progress in areas such as carbon emissions reduction, diversity ratios, and social impact metrics.
  • Strategy and Goals: Companies outline their strategies, objectives, and targets for sustainable development, showcasing their commitment to responsible practices.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Reporting includes information on how a company engages with stakeholders, responds to their concerns, and integrates their feedback into decision-making.
  • Risk Management: BRSR reporting may entail discussing how a company identifies and manages ESG-related risks, demonstrating its proactive approach to risk mitigation.
  • Governance Structure: Companies disclose their governance structures, including board composition, executive compensation, and measures to prevent conflicts of interest.

Benefits of BRSR Reporting

The adoption of BRSR reporting offers numerous benefits that extend beyond compliance requirements. These benefits impact a company’s reputation, competitiveness, risk management, and stakeholder relationships:

  • Transparency and Accountability: BRSR reporting enhances transparency by providing stakeholders with a clear view of a company’s actions, strategies, and outcomes related to responsible and sustainable practices.
  • Risk Identification and Mitigation: Through comprehensive reporting, companies can identify and address potential ESG-related risks, minimizing potential financial, legal, and reputational vulnerabilities.
  • Access to Capital: BRSR reporting can attract socially responsible investors who prioritize ethical and sustainable investments, potentially leading to improved access to capital.
  • Innovation and Efficiency: Companies that integrate sustainable practices often drive innovation, optimize resource usage, and enhance operational efficiency.
  • Long-Term Value Creation: BRSR reporting aligns with the principles of sustainable growth, ensuring that a company’s activities contribute to long-term value for shareholders and society.
  • Stakeholder Trust and Loyalty: Transparent BRSR reporting fosters trust among stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and communities, enhancing loyalty and brand reputation.

BRSR reporting represents a pivotal shift in how businesses communicate their commitment to responsible conduct and sustainable development. As the world continues to grapple with complex challenges such as climate change, social inequality, and governance issues, the importance of comprehensive reporting frameworks like BRSR cannot be overstated. By aligning with NGRBC principles and diligently disclosing their efforts, businesses can not only enhance their reputation but also contribute meaningfully to a more sustainable and equitable future. Embracing BRSR reporting is not just a compliance requirement; it’s a strategic step towards building a better world through responsible business practices. 4C Consulting provides BRSR Reporting and Implementation services to clients around Pan India location. To know more on implementation roadmap Contact us .