India CSR: Integrated Reporting – The New Kid in the Block

14 March, 2017

NEW DELHI: After two episodes of the Leadership Series dedicated to CSR and Sustainability, it is now time to delve into the Corporate Governance issues and who else better to speak about it, than Richard Howitt himself, the Chief Executive Officer of the International Integrated Reporting Council, in response to an exclusive interaction with Ms. Nayan Mitra in his recent visit to India from London.

What role should a country’s legal system play to enhance the effectiveness of integrated reporting?

Integrated reporting has made enormous progress globally through individual companies who have piloted and championed it, and through ‘soft law’ initiatives such as inclusion in corporate governance codes or stock exchange listing requirements. The recent SEBI call for the top 500 listed Indian companies to undertake integrated reporting is within precisely this spirit.  So is the commitment from BSE to build integrated reporting in to their corporate governance scorecard, to assess companies listed on their stock exchange. Therefore, the most important next thing the Indian Government could do is to also endorse these moves.

There is also a role for regulators to remove barriers to adoption. In India, the ‘Business Responsibility Reporting’ has been an excellent initiative for companies to address their societal role.

Integrated reporting helps companies to genuinely understand the wider impacts of the business and to change business strategy, to minimize risks and maximize opportunities which are not predicated on short-term financial interest alone. Many Indian companies who I have spoken to would support a change in this direction. In fact, the ‘Business Responsibility Reporting’ today is predicted to evolve into the integrated report of tomorrow.

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