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Organisations Need to Collaborate with Communities for Positive Impact: Industry Experts

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Organisations Need to Collaborate with Communities for Positive Impact: Industry Experts

Palladium International, a consortium of six companies, that works in the space of creating a collaborative ecosystem of public and commercial stakeholders, held a conference on the topic ‘Doing Great by Doing Good’ in Mumbai. The speakers and participants at the conference tackled head-on topic like creating shared value, social innovation, impact bonds, and impact investments.

Dr Robert Kaplan, Emeritus Professor of Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School and founder of Palladium International, spoke at length about the balanced scorecard method, a method he developed along with David P Norton.

Speaking about how organisations in India can deliver positive impact in the communities where they work, Dr Kaplan stressed on collaborating with the local population to create value. “Employ the previously unemployable and recognise that you are making up for deficiencies in the public education system,” he said. “Companies should recognise that there are pockets where young people are not getting all the skills and knowledge that they need to become productive employees. Once they recognise that, they should agree to hire people from these communities and be willing to invest in them to train them and get them up to speed,” he further added. These employees become the most loyal employees of the organisation, he noted. Another approach could be source more of the purchases from the local community, Dr Kaplan said.

Dr. Mukund Rajan, Chairman, Tata Global Sustainability Council, spoke about how the Tatas have played a critical role in the social and public domain. “Next year we will be celebrating our 150th anniversary at the Tatas. We have learnt over the past 15 decades that if we do not address inequality in society it prevents us from becoming a valuable member of the community and a neighbour of choice,” he noted. Rajan stressed on the words of Jamsetji Tata who said “In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.”

Rajan pointed out that the Jaago Re campaign #Powerof49 which played a key role in getting women to vote during the 2014 General Elections was one such example of the company creating value. He noted that even though the campaign was not intended to boost business directly, it helped increase sales because of how consumers now viewed the brand.

D Shivkumar, CEO, PepsiCo India, drove home the point that only metrics without culture cannot be a sustainable model for improvement. He noted that instead of looking at several metrics about how the company is performing, CEOs and managers should “look at the work and workflow of the company before putting metrics on the table,” he said. “Many times we are not measuring the work we are doing and the workflow. If you don’t measure that, a metric on top of that is a waste.” The key to success in an organisation is the work and workflow, “work must be meaningful and workflow must be quick,” he advised.

Speaking about the role of the media in doing good, Nawal Ahuja, co-founder and Director, exchange4media group, said, “In India we have an extremely robust independent media that has a very strong foundation. Media has a very important role to play in terms of holding a mirror to society while at the same time speaking about the good that is happening in the country. Both of these aspects of the media go hand-in-hand,” he said. This is a challenging role for the media, and there is a lot more that needs to be done to address the needs of a vast country like India, he noted.

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