The past couple of months have been a revelation for all of us. In the initial phases, the new normal was a fancy jargon but it soon became a reality. This new normal or now called as the next normal, demands each one of us to change and adapt as per the evolving situation across all phases of a person’s lifecycle. A student is getting accustomed to education from home, a professional is adapting to a full-time work from home mode, an entrepreneur is pivoting business model to be available for his consumers who are home-bound. There are many such instances, but these aren’t the only changes that we have witnessed.
While the world continued to fight this deadly virus, another fight ensued, one that aimed to create a healthier, stronger and sustainable future for all. What we could not achieve in the past 50 years, the pandemic managed in a span of four months. From massive reduction in greenhouse gases, healing the ozone layer, unclogging rivers, reducing noise and air pollution, this virus and the resultant lockdown helped heal the environment and made the world a lot greener than before.
So, the question is if all this could be achieved in just four months then why a conscious and concentrated effort cannot be made for a sustainable and green future? While nature is doing its bit to reclaim and heal, it is not only the responsibility of every individual but also every responsible corporate – to take a holistic approach that will help in creating a new, more resilient, healthy, equal society that lives in equilibrium with nature. Social and environmental responsibility cannot be achieved comprehensively if we do not take care of people and planet in addition to profits. This triple bottom-line approach is both fundamental and critical.
The climate crisis may be a slower moving crisis than the speed of this global pandemic, but it’s the long-term effects that are likely to be far more threatening.
Here are some lessons for us as citizens, leaders and businesses to learn and adapt that can pave the way towards a green future for humanity:
1. Awareness first
The first crucial lesson the pandemic has taught us is the importance of running a business with a holistic view that encompasses the business, people and the society at its core. It is important for businesses to be self-aware and responsible to build an ecosystem that is capable to sustain today and tomorrow.
2. Collaborate to benefit
Time and again the need for partnership and collaboration have been established as an important platform to achieve the unattainable. The pandemic truly brought forward unique partnerships that were driven with the end goal of serving customers. Recent report by Retailers Association of India showcased a significant increase in demand for furniture during this period, especially with work from home becoming a norm. Even products like trimmers and resistance bands saw a visible increase in purchase, with consumer looking for alternatives to barber shops and gyms.
The same rationale holds true when we are working towards a bigger goal of a sustainable world. Business must put partnership at its core which will facilitate in attaining scale and serve a large ecosystem while ensuring that the amalgamation of shared interests, values and purpose facilitates the larger good of the society.
3. Go Local
When one partners or seeks support from within the local community that one exists in there is a lot of local intelligence that pours in, ensuring there are lot more options, solutions and innovations, as the locals can identify the real problem and help you arrive at relevant solutions. With the ‘Vocal for Local’ message by the Prime Minister, there has been an increased focus towards self-reliance and seeking the support within the local community, be it in the personal care sector, F&B industry or even by brands such as Kamdhenu Paints that are Indian-born brands with a strong local connect. Working at a local level to identify specific needs, capture local knowledge and generate community solutions, will improve companies’ standing in the eyes of the people and be fundamental in winning the fight for a happier world and a healthy environment.
4. A lesson for leaders
Last but the most important lesson is that business leaders must stay committed to sustainability for a much longer period of time. It cannot be a one-time, short term deal. It not only requires planning but also long-term development, maintenance and implementing measurement mechanisms. Developing commitment, ensuring stakeholder participation and being fearless by the leader can go a long way in establishing confidence in the green and sustainable roadmap crafted.
(Rajesh Sahay, Senior VP & Head HR, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting)