Guide to BRSR ReportsGear up for Reporting Season – Guide to BRSR Reports

guide to BRSR reports key pointers
Business Sustainability is fast becoming a global top agenda for investors, executives, employees, and customers. While the European markets may be leading the way, Indian businesses have also seen a dramatic shift towards sustainable processes and reporting in the past few years. The key focus of sustainability reporting has been on the companies’ Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) responsibilities and their transparent incorporation in annual disclosures. As global pressure builds up on India to deliver on the climate pledge of reaching net-zero emissions by 2070, businesses are at the forefront of this evolving landscape. Along with this, there is mounting pressure on companies to disclose comprehensive, reliable, consistent, and comparable sustainability data in their reporting.
business responsibility and sustainability report (BRSR)
Key Facts:
  • India aims to achieve the target of Net Zero by 2070
  • Under EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), companies will be made to collect up to 70% of their waste by 2022-2022, and 100% by 2024.
  • India will get its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030
  • India will meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030
In line with the global developments, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), in its continued efforts to enhance disclosures on ESG standards, introduced new requirements for sustainability reporting by listed companies. The new reporting format named, Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR), aims to establish links between the financial results of a business with its ESG performance.

What is BRSR or Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting?

 

BRSR full form is Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting, a mandatory framework introduced by Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Top listed companies (by market cap) must disclose their Environmental, Social, & Governance (ESG) practices through this program.

Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) is meant to serve as “a single comprehensive source of non-financial sustainability information relevant to all business stakeholders – investors, shareholders, regulators, and the public at large.”

In 2019, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) formed a committee to align the preceding Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) formats in line with the National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBCs) and provide new formats.

Due to the changing expectations and external like government regulations, compliances, shifting consumer preferences, and investor pressure, BRR became irrelevant and was shown to lack in quality (of disclosures) by a 2018 NSE report. This eventually resulted in the creation of a more robust reporting framework – the BRSR – that was globally aligned with reporting standards. Therefore, in 2020, the MCA adopted the NGRBC which subsequently led to the replacement of BRR with BRSR. It is the first framework to truly address environmental, social, and governance issues in India.


The BRSR report is aimed at helping Indian companies address additional issues that are gaining global importance such as climate change, inclusive growth, diversification of the workforce, and a sustainable environment and society.

BRSR reporting has been mandatory for the top 1,000 listed companies in India FY 2022–23 onwards.

A good Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report should be comprehensive, transparent, and objective. It should include information on a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, as well as its strategies and goals for improving ESG performance in the future.

What BRSR Reporting aims to achieve?

Comparability 

 

These standards work like a provision that enables cross-mapping and reporting in line with globally accepted standards such as the GRI, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). This can help rank companies at a global level.

 

Sustainability Reporting 

 

BRSR reports are expected to showcase higher levels of transparency and accountability by companies in making disclosures. This will help provide material information for quantifying the initiatives by the companies towards sustainable aspects.

 

Indicators

 

These guidelines motivate companies to adopt the Key Performance Indicator model, thereby laying down Essential (mandatory) and Leadership (voluntary) indicators. This will eventually help evaluate business performance more accurately.

 

Quantified Assessment 

 

This reporting should allow for easier comparisons between companies by focusing on quantifying certain information.

 

The Framework

The Committee proposed two formats for the BRSR reporting with separate guidance notes for each. They are known as the ‘BRSR Comprehensive’ which is aimed at the listed companies and has a much wider scope and ‘BRSR lite’ for the unlisted companies who wish to voluntarily adopt these standards

BRSR Comprehensive: Mandatory For Listed Companies

The framework of BRSR Comprehensive has been designed with reference to various existing globally recognized and locally relevant non-financial reporting frameworks.

Disclosure under BRSR diagram

 

Disclosures under BRSR:

 

  • Section A: General Disclosures 

 The objective of this section is to obtain basic information about the company – size, location, products, number of employees, CSR activities, etc.

  • Section B: Management and Process Disclosures 

In this section, the company is required to disclose information on policies and processes relating to the NGRBC Principles concerning leadership, governance, and stakeholder engagement. Wherever relevant, companies have been asked to provide links to their websites where these policies are available.

  • Section C: Principle-wise Performance Disclosures

Responses to this section indicate how a company is performing with respect to the nine Principles and Core Elements of the NGRBCs. This section requires companies to demonstrate their intent and commitment to responsible business conduct through actions and outcomes. 

  • The questions have been divided into two types:
    • Leadership Indicators (Voluntary) 
    • Essential Indicators (Mandatory) 

BRSR Lite: For Unlisted Companies

The Comprehensive framework of BRSR reporting guidelines is highly extensive covering multiple areas of the business in detail. Unlisted companies and other MSME organizations with no prior experience in non-financial reporting are often not able to meet the reporting requirements of the comprehensive BRSR framework. The committee thus proposed a framework called BRSR Lite, which has a different category of essential and leadership reporting. It has fewer elements than the comprehensive version and seeks information that these companies will be able to provide.

This framework enables unlisted and MSME organizations to come within the ambit of those companies that carry out sustainability reporting and exemplify the impact they are making.

 

The key differences between BRSR and BRR (BRR vs. BRSR):

BRR BRSR
Reporting Sections:  5 reporting sections: 

General Information 

Financial Details 

Other Details 

BR Disclosure
Principle-wise Performance 

3 reporting sections: 

General Disclosures 

Management and Processes

Principle-wise Performance

Format  Universal/Single Format  Leadership Indicators Essential Indicators 
Questions  59 questions  140 questions: 98 mandatory, 42 leadership
Indicators  Mostly qualitative  Qualitative and quantitative 
Disclosure  Annual Report  Annual Report and MCA21 Portal 

 

Advantages of BRSR Reporting

 

While listed companies must furnish a BRSR report there are a plethora of advantages for unlisted companies to undertake the BRSR reporting as well. Some of the many benefits are:

 

Improved Transparency and Credibility:

BRSR Reports can provide a clearer picture of a company’s performance and operations, which can help investors better understand a company’s business practices and identify potential areas of concern. This will help a company to build trust with stakeholders, improve its reputation, and get a competitive advantage.

 

Better risk management:

 

Since there are significantly more data points that companies need to collect, structure, assess, and disclose for a BRSR report, this gives companies a better overview of their standing and helps them identify, report, manage and mitigate the risks.

 

Improved Business Performance:

 

Companies that start the process and improve on it year-on-year will see tangible benefits in business such as cost savings and a positive impact on their ESG metrics. A strong ESG performance can help a company to attract and retain customers, employees, and investors, giving them an edge over their competitors. Furthermore, BRSR Reports provide important information and can help identify areas for improvement. All of this would help a company to make better business decisions and ultimately, improve the bottom line.

 

Compliance with regulations:

 

Many countries and industries have regulations and guidelines for ESG reporting, and a good report can help a company comply with these regulations.

 

Increased value creation:

 

A few global studies show that companies that embed ESG into core business practices outperform their peers. This is true for India as well, where, over 12 years, the MSCI India ESG leaders index consistently outperformed the broader market. Undertaking BRSR reporting and making improvements is an investment in your company’s long-term value creation.

 

Increased access to capital:

 

Several leading global reporting frameworks have significant investor involvement in their formulation, and investors are some of the largest consumers of this data. Highlighting strong performance in your reports would make your company a better contender for securing more capital.

 

How can Snowkap help you create impactful BRSR Reports?

  • SNOW IQ

    Snowkap’s proprietary tool, sustainability reporting software, SNOW IQ, eases the extensive process of BRSR data collection by making it completely digital, and you have access to your company’s comprehensive data on easy-to-navigate dashboards.

  • Centralised and Easy Data Collection

    BRSR Reporting is a very resource-intensive operation. Snowkap saves your organization’s time and effort by centralizing the ESG data collection process into one platform via ESG tools.

  • Gap Analysis and Improvement

    We help identify and analyze gaps in the assessment and work with you to make improvements for the next FY.

  • Impactful Presentation Made Easy

    How you present your data is crucial, we aim to make your BRSR reporting impactful for all your stakeholders. You will be able to show your company’s ESG scores and attract investors while effectively communicating your sustainability effort to your consumers as well. You will be able to download the disclosure-ready report.

  • Recurring

    Once you’re part of the Snowkap platform, data collection will become a digital process, making data collection easy for the next FY disclosures.

Conclusion

While BRSR is mandatory for the top 1000 listed companies starting FY 23, the framework is a critical tool for all companies. Companies using the BRSR framework will begin to increase the amount of data collected, enhance data quality, and produce more transparent reports.
With the BRSR implementation, businesses in India are expected to reach higher disclosure levels in their quest to be socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible.

FAQs

What is BRSR guidelines?

The Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) is a framework designed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to encourage companies to integrate sustainable and responsible business practices into their
operations.

What are the 9 principles of BRSR?

  1. Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with ethics, transparency, and accountability.
  2. Businesses should provide goods and services that are safe and contribute to sustainability throughout their life cycle.
  3. Businesses should promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains.
  4. Businesses should respect the interests of, and be responsive towards all stakeholders, especially those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable, and marginalized.
  5. Businesses should respect and promote human rights.
  6. Businesses should respect, protect, and make efforts to 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.

What is the principle 5 of BRSR?

Principle 5 of the BRSR framework states that businesses should respect and promote human rights. Companies should respect and promote human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, and privacy. They should also prevent and address human rights violations in their operations and value chains.

Why is it called carbon neutral?

The term “carbon neutral” is used because it refers to balancing out the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with an equivalent amount of removal. Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change and makes up roughly two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Is BRSR report mandatory?

The BRSR reporting requirement is mandatory for the top 1000 listed companies in India by market capitalization from FY 2022-23 onwards. Listed companies other than the top 1000 may voluntarily submit a BRSR report FY2022 onwards.

What is the principle 3 of BRSR?

Principle 3 of the BRSR framework states that businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains. Companies should provide a safe and healthy working environment, fair wages, and benefits, and opportunities for personal and professional development. They should also respect the rights of employees to form and join trade unions, engage in collective bargaining, and participate in decision-making processes that affect their working conditions.

Why is BRSR reporting important?

BRSR reporting is important because it helps businesses communicate their sustainability performance, challenges, and opportunities to their stakeholders transparently. BRSR involves reporting on various ESG parameters, such as
environmental impact, social and community development, governance practices, and economic performance. This information can help investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders make informed decisions about their engagement with the company. Additionally, BRSR reporting can help companies identify areas for improvement and track their progress towards sustainability goals.

What is the difference between GRI and BRSR?

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an international independent standards organization that helps businesses understand and communicate their impact on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, governance, social well-being. The GRI Standards are considered to be the first and most widely accepted standard for sustainability reporting internationally. The BRSR framework is benchmarked to global frameworks such as GRI.

In summary, while GRI is an international standard for sustainability reporting, BRSR is a reporting format introduced by SEBI specifically for listed companies in India.