Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Sandeep Chandna, Chief Sustainability Officer, Tech Mahindra

Sustainability a trendy buzzword, and much spoken about across board-rooms, organizations, institutions, and households, is more than just that. It demands an accountability, far more than merely being ecologically conscious. It is about anticipating the risks to the very being of earth and life, and meeting the demands of present and future generations responsibly through new and innovative strategies and solutions.

As the world  dealt with the harsh impacts of the pandemic, we can’t help but notice the parallels between what the virus has done to us and what we have been doing to our planet. If we wish to secure our future, we must seek to devise a way for society to progress and prosper in harmony with the planet. Sustainability is the need of the hour, and it is our responsibility to shoulder it, the best we can.

Today, it is more imperative than ever to integrate sustainability in business and to strike a balance between environment, economy, equity, and ethics. Businesses can no longer remain silent or obscure about their sustainability initiatives. Leading global enterprises are already making significant pledges, and sustainability is now expanding beyond the uni-dimensional paradigm of environmental protection. Today’s customers expect businesses to play a much bigger social role, and business leaders need to strike the right balance, quickly.

A challenge is an opportunity for discovery, invention, and innovation

I perceive the current situation as a remarkable opportunity for the business community to contribute towards global well-being and growth; and the most desirable way to leverage this economic opportunity is through innovation and development of sustainable solutions.

Electric vehicles are a prime example of how solving the global challenge of sustainable commute offers trillions of dollars in business growth for the stakeholders. By taking the onus of solving global challenges through innovative and disruptive products and services, organizations can grow faster and stay ahead.

Additionally, green logistics practices have been a win-win proposition for businesses – it is not only benefiting the environment but also helping in attracting and retaining customers like never before. Beyond using cleaner and more efficient vehicles and facilities, green logistics also seek to minimize waste and maximize recycling. For example, many companies now use recycled materials for packaging their products. Further, green logistics is not just about reducing the environmental impact of logistics activities, it is also about improving the efficiency of logistics operations. For instance, it can also help to reduce traffic congestion and pollution by better planning of delivery routes.

Sustainability’s ‘secret sauce’ – What India Inc. needs to do

The integration of ESG for India Inc. remains very piecemeal due to the lack of ESG professionals with the standard skillsets required to understand the business mechanisms and regulatory practices. These are obstacles on our path to sustainability, which can be overcome through collective efforts.

Fortunately, we are witnessing a ‘surge of intent’ on the radar, observing which, the nation has committed to net-zero emissions by 2070 and provided robust policy support to achieve the same. To achieve this goal, we will need to re-invent and re-structure every aspect of operations, embedding it with absolute ESG accountability. Companies simply need to go beyond fulfilling the generic ESG expectations of all their stakeholders and delve deeper to explore opportunities to make effective ESG execution synonymous with ensuring business resilience. Here is a two-pronged ‘secret sauce’ that corporate houses need to use as they go about building sustainable businesses:

  • Sourcing ethically and responsibly by working with suppliers who are committed to sustainable environmental practices
  • Minimizing footprint by increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption and moving toward zero waste

Leaving behind a legacy to be proud of

The concept of sustainability has dramatically evolved for firms and the society in the preceding 50 years, with the last two years having jolted us out of our complacent existence. Corporate managers are now aware of the need to broaden their goals, beyond the traditional financial expectations. In fact, sustainability, today, has become the brand differentiator. Organizations are perceiving it as a ‘blue-chip’ investment that will result in assured, generous dividends in the long run!

Indeed, the transformation is underway at an exemplary rate and soon, a future-ready, resilient economy will be the fruit of our labor. This will require continued collaboration and commitment to wide-ranging reforms. I believe NOW is the time for us to pick up the gauntlet, leverage the power of technology and tread tirelessly on the path of sustainability towards a future where the next generations will be proud of the legacy we build.

Sandeep Chandna, was speaking at the ET SDG Summit 2022, a convergence of a diverse group of government heads, technocrats, Country representatives, business leaders, innovators and civil society as they discussed and debated on long term business solutions to tackle climate change and advance sustainable development.

Authored by:

Sandeep Chandna, Chief Sustainability Officer, Tech Mahindra

Edited by: Queenie Nair

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members