IT Firms’ Next Big Bet – ESG Services

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) marked the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) mandatory for the top 1,000 listed companies on the basis of market capitalisation.
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Within the past couple of years, one will be hard pressed to find an acronym with more buzz around it than ‘ESG’. Environmental and Social Governance or ESG was a term that first came up in a 2004 U.N. report called ‘Who Cares Wins’. Eighteen years later, as companies face increased pressure to adhere to climate laws, the term has gained a sudden resurgence. Investors and regulators alike started pushing companies to bring in ESG norms. 

In the past one year, Indian businesses have gradually warmed up to the idea of ESG. A report published by the corporate governance firm Stakeholders Empowerment Services or SES in March released a list of Indian companies with the highest ESG scores and IT giant Infosys came out on top. Much like their global counterparts, clients locally have started considering ESG as a priority to sign partnerships in tech—forcing Indian IT to bite the ESG bullet. 

The three major categories that ESG solution seekers want

Infosys

Having begun its climate action journey in 2008, Salil Parekh-led company Infosys released its ESG report 2020–21 in October 2020. The company board formed an Environmental, Social and Governance Committee on April 14, 2021 to oversee ESG initiatives, goals and best ESG practices. Founder of Biocon Limited and lead independent director of the board, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw was appointed as the chairperson of the ESG Committee. 

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Infosys offers seven main Sustainability services, which includes—Carbon Offset Advisory which gives strategic analyses, reports and recommendations to clients regarding their carbon offset programmes, Decarbonisation which is an end-to-end system that includes predictive analytics, smart metering and central command centres, ESG Data and Analytics which gathers and verifies ESG metrics, ESG Finance which creates financial risk assessments reports based on the ESG data and gives marketing, strategy and execution advice, Smart Spaces which includes solutions to track and manage energy and resource usage and embedded emissions, Sustainability Design Advisory which determines the readiness of a company’s ESG initiatives and PLM  (Product Lifecycle Management) Circularity which works on cutting down waste by reducing single-use materials, waste treatment and recycling. 

Wipro

CEO and MD Thierry Delaporte has previously said that ESG wasn’t just important to win deals with clients but also directed them to hire the right talent. 


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The Bangalore-based company’s ESG services cover five significant areas for clients, according to their ‘Global ESG Trends’ report released in December last year: Content which includes content designing and management, Reputation Risk Management and  Enterprise Legal Management Solutions which includes assistance with corporate compliance, IP management and legal services, Data & Insights which includes ESG data management and research and advanced analytics, eCommerce Operations which includes site content management, pricing & promotional strategies, product Information and Marketing as a Service which includes executing marketing campaigns, social media management and creative design and analytics. 

ESG solutions offered by HCL Tech

HCL Tech

HCL Tech has a range of programmes for clients as a part of its ESG solutions

Cloud Smart is the company’s cloud transformation platform with a sustainability-first approach. The Simplified ESG Analytics Platform is the data platform specific to ESG-related numbers that integrate data from external ESG data providers with internal data to come up with clients’ ESG metrics. 

There’s also Zero Impact Platform or ZIP which is a sustainability solution specially for the oil and gas and manufacturing sector. ZIP works in safety, risk management and cutting CO2 emissions. Track and Trace helps lower fuel consumption and also improves safety of truck drivers using IoT. 

Another scheme called FENIX 2.0 is a long-term digital transformation framework with a focused view on sustainability. It employs green IT, change management and workforce training while creating transformation programmes for clients.

“I believe ESG is becoming more and more important for our clients. We are doing well in a lot of the ESG metrics … if you have a vision and thought leadership around ESG, you get better access to customers, better mindshare, and wins,” C Vijayakumar, CEO and MD, HCL, said in a recent media interaction.

TCS

India’s largest IT services company, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has launched a bunch of sustainability solutions including its Clever Energy platform. Established in early February this year, Clever Energy uses an IoT system to help companies measure their electricity usage. 

The company has also partnered with AWS to launch an ESG platform powered by cloud. The platform has a custom ESG scoring model that matches investment portfolios with the ESG criteria of companies and calculates them against prescribed sustainability benchmarks. TCS says that its clients’ sustainability initiatives have been a key driver of deals in the last few quarters.

ESG service offerings by Mindtree

Mindtree

Mindtree has partnered with cloud-based software company Salesforce to build an ESG platform to help businesses assess their carbon footprint and diversity. The programme helps companies build their business strategies and speeds up the implementation of Salesforce Net Zero Cloud and other industry-standard metrics for social and governance practices. 

ESG Metric Reporting Market Forecasted to Achieve $1.425 Billion by 2026

Push for ESG from industry players

India started building an ESG regulatory framework in line with the EU and other parts of the world. The ESG initiative has been marked by two vital moments in the country—the first was when Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) spending and reporting was made compulsory under the Companies Act in 2013. 

Then, the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), marked the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) mandatory for the top 1,000 listed companies on the basis of market capitalisation from April 1. 

The BRSR will lead the way to form a business responsibility sustainability index for Indian companies becoming a major starting point as it mandates ESG-related disclosures around its risks, opportunities and management.

In May, SEBI announced a new format for firms for any sustainability-related disclosures. While there are no explicit regulation binding companies to adopt ESG, due to these slight nudges, the general notion had become that firms that complied with ESG were ‘safer’ while also helping investors make a positive impact. 

A StanChart report stated that India has great potential for growth in sustainable investing with scope to invest USD 1 trillion in ESG opportunities by 2030. In total, USD 8.2 trillion of retail wealth that was worth investing could be put into sustainable investments by 2030. The study found that more than 46% of investors in India wanted to help reduce their carbon footprint and 40% of investors wanted to invest early to hedge against ESG risks, and 33% wanted to genuinely help make a positive impact. 

Indian IT firms have clearly been at the forefront of the ESG race and the early investments will reap early dividends. 

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Poulomi Chatterjee
Poulomi is a Technology Journalist with Analytics India Magazine. Her fascination with tech and eagerness to dive into new areas led her to the dynamic world of AI and data analytics.

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