Sustainability: the corporate responsibility

The way forward

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Every sector has specific sustainability challenges and though differently, every sector’s role in the corporate contribution to sustainable development is crucial. Repeated instances of market failure and turbulence have reaffirmed the business case for sustainability.

Companies are fast realizing the benefits of incorporation and disclosure of responsible business practices, such as reduced costs, abatement of risk, stronger stakeholder relationships, customer loyalty, enhanced brand reputation and a societal license to operate.

It’s time for action for organizations

With needs and benefits having been established, it is now up to organizations to focus on the path forward in terms of their action plan for sustainability enabling responsible business. There is a need for broadening an organization’s responsibility spectrum, stemming from the recognition of the fact that an organization’s accountability extends not only for its direct impact on the environment and society, but also for its supply chain’s behavior and impact.

Government and regulatory bodies in India are working towards mainstreaming sustainability to ingrain responsible practices into the corporate sector’s core business activity.

The first step to more sustainable practices is ensuring transparency and accountability. In this regard, following the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ release of the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) mandated the top 100 listed companies to issue Business Responsibility Reports (BRRs) following the NVGs in a certain framework. The mandate aims at wider inclusion of companies in a phased manner, thus propelling the agenda of responsible business practices and their consequent disclosure.

Business responsibility reporting presents a unique opportunity for companies to revisit or define their sustainability value proposition to build shareholder wealth and ensure corporate growth while inculcating the qualities of a responsible corporate citizen. Compliance and reputation being the two strongholds of business sustenance, structured BR reporting could indeed be a step in the right direction.

Corporate India can most certainly leverage this opportunity to build its next growth story, which would this time around be centered on sustainability and business responsibility.

Key questions for corporate India

Whether you are a first time reporter or a seasoned sustainability champion, a top-100 company or one that is rapidly growing to get there, the question remains the same:

  • Have you leveraged business responsibility for growth and success?
  • Are your risks managed and opportunities harnessed?
  • Is your business geared to deliver stakeholder expectations through business responsibility reporting?
  • In short, are you ready?