Value generation through ESG is undisputable, but multiplicity of standards and frameworks is confusing for businesses are some inferences from the survey
A majority of senior corporate leaders (80 per cent) perceive environment as the most important aspect of ESG for their business value chain. Half of them (50 per cent) recognise that managing a robust and sustainable supply chain is among the top challenges. Over 95 per centplace compliance with statutory requirements as the most important driver for value generation through ESG of their business. Less than 8% claim that unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 had minimal impact on the progress of their company’s ESG efforts. These are the findings of the Outlook ESGBharat Survey 2023 conducted by the Outlook Group with BDO India, a professional services firm, as the knowledge partner. Toluna, a market research company, was the technology partner for data collection.
Summing up the insights from the findings at a roundtable meeting in New Delhi today, Dipankar Ghosh, Partner & Leader/Sustainability & ESG, BDO India, noted that there are challenges, but opportunities from building a sustainable future are immense; there is a growing awareness and preparedness for ESG initiatives; value generation through ESG is undisputable; access to knowledge and capability is not uniform or equitable, and multiplicity of standards and frameworks is confusing for businesses.
Earlier in the day, Andrea Wojnar, Representative, UNFPA India and Country Director, Bhutan, in her address said that gender equality must be elevated to a business performance imperative. She added, “Gender equality is one of the greatest investments you can make when it comes to profitability. It makes good business sense. Pillars of ESG are completely entwined with rights of girls and women.”
She also shared that UNFPA and partners have already come together globally under the auspices of the ‘Coalition for Reproductive Justice in Business’ to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) in corporate policy and practice. The coalition is working to bring together key stakeholders to advance SRHR on the private sector agenda, promote integration of SRHR and gender equality in businesses, develop metrics and standards, and collect data, she said.
While speaking at the event, Sundeep Kumar Nayak, Director General, National Productivity Council (NPC), said that ESG is an imperative for India Inc. “For example,” he added, “ESG adoption is important because investments which will come into India from outside if companies are ESG compliant.”
The survey was conducted to gain a comprehensive understanding of the ESG landscape in India and offer a tool to businesses to elevate their ESG performance and create positive transformation. The survey sought to assess business leaders' pulse, assess readiness for ESG reporting and disclosure, evaluate sectoral perspectives, identify imperatives and drivers, understand impact of global and regional ESG focus, and gather insights for building a sustainable future.
The key themes the survey focused on included importance of ESG for the business value chain, aspects to be considered for integration ESG into business, the value generated through ESG for business, interventions that may augment the management of ESG, strategies adopted by businesses to cope with the evolving nature of ESG, and the impact of increased ESG focus on the business, and challenges faced by businesses to improve ESG performance.
The participants of the survey were from financial and services (28%), energy and industries (26%), ICTS (15%), healthcare (12%) and fast-moving consumer goods (10%).
Other speakers at the roundtable included Dr. Arvind Bodhankar, Executive Director, ESG & Chief Risk Officer, Dalmia Bharat; Atul Bhatia, Director, Strategic Transformation, Kyndryl India; Raman Kalra, Senior Partner, Sustainability Consulting Leader, IBM Consulting, India/South Asia; Manas Sarkar, GM- HR and Sustainability, UFlex; Harsha Vardhan Sharma from Jindal Stainless; Ritu Gargya, Head of Sustainability & Marketing, Ganga Kinare by Himalayan Hotels; Dr. Harsh Thukral, Senior Deputy Director, NPC, amongst others.