Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India today released the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC). NGRBC is an updated version of the National Voluntary Guidelines (NVGs) on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business, 2011. Release of the NGRBC is part of a larger initiative towards updating India’s policy framework on issues of responsible business.
MCA recently released a zero draft of National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights which is likely to follow a process of multi-stakeholder consultations before getting final. This is in alignment with an international trend where countries are adopting the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Nine Principles of National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct
The NGRBC lays down guidelines for Indian businesses on responsible business conduct. These principles are:
1. Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is Ethical, Transparent and Accountable.
2. Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe
3. Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains.
4. Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all their stakeholders.
5. Businesses should respect and promote human rights.
6. Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.
7. Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent.
8. Businesses should promote inclusive growth and equitable development.
9. Businesses should engage with and provide value to their consumers in a responsible manner
This report outlines key changes in the NVGs and the NGRBC. Top 500 companies listed on Indian stock exchanges are required to publish annual disclosures based on the NVGs as per the Business Responsibility Report (BRR) framework. NGRBC includes an updated ABRR reporting framework which is expected to be finalised in due time.
India Responsible Business Index (IRBI) has assessed BRR disclosures of top 100 BSE listed companies over the last 3 years. It shows that while there has been some policy and disclosure level improvement in the top 100 companies’ implementation of these policies by companies remains a challenge in most areas.