Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and MD, Hindustan Unilever Ltd was one of the keynote speakers at the Porter Prize event organised by The Indian Council on Competitiveness in New Delhi on September 26 in partnership with the exchange4media group. The other keynote addresses were made by Etienne Benet, CEO, Nestle India Ltd, Shashi Ruia, Chairman Essar Group and by Michael E Porter himself. The Porter prizes are awards in the field of Strategy and Competitiveness named after Harvard Faculty member and Father of the Modern Strategic Field, Professor Michael E Porter.
The awards came to India for the first time in 2012 and since then have recognised Indian companies in the fields of Strategy and Competitiveness. The discourse centred on a clear understanding of shared value and how the concept went beyond corporate social responsibility to contribute to communities at large. Speaking on behalf of HUL, the Indian consumer goods company with a legacy of sustainable programmes, CEO and MD Sanjiv Mehta stressed on the importance of the community and responsibility, “We need to have responsible capitalism as the needs of the community are important. We need leaders who can build responsible businesses. Business should be governed by conscience.”
HUL provides Unilever about eight per cent of its annual revenues and last year Unilever increased its stake in HUL to 67.3 per cent. Apart from being a market leader in consumer goods in India, HUL is also known for its strategy of sustainable growth. In 2010, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was launched to increase the company’s positive social impact. Referring to the importance of health and hygiene as a part of the plan, Mehta said, “What is good for India is good for HUL and this has been our belief from the beginning. Every brand should serve a purpose in the life of the person who buys it. Hand washing with Lifebuoy was begun with this motive.”
Sustainable and inclusive growth were the priorities for Nestle India too and Etienne Benet, CEO, Nestle India Ltd described how the brand’s business philosophy was to create shared value, “We as a brand have a legacy of creating shared value. Creating shared value means that business and values go hand in hand. Each company should analyse its value chain to see how it can incorporate this philosophy.”
Michael Porter took the ideas of inclusive growth to a different level as he explained how different kinds of growth had to come together in powerful ways to provide wholesome development. “The role of business is evolving. Combining economic and social development has become part of the new emerging landscape. These two are powerfully connected. Successful countries in the next few years will be those that can synthesise these two aspects,” he added. Porter also spoke about how economic development depended on competitiveness and introduced the notion of clusters that drove innovative activity. He stressed on the ideas of collaboration and the importance of creating clusters where businesses could flourish along with development.
The annual Porter prize was established in Japan in 2001. Professor Porter is an authority on competitive strategy, the competitiveness and economic development of nations. The prize judges companies on the basis of their strategy and competitiveness.