Beroz Gazdar, Mahindra & Mahindra's senior vice-president (Group sustainability)
Mahindra & Mahindra's senior vice-president (Group sustainability) speaks to Brian de Souza on the Mahindra Group’s green vision and its ongoing implementation.
What initiatives did Mahindra & Mahindra undertake to receive a mention in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index?
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) works with 551 financial institutions/ banks having assets under management of US$ 71 trillion, to advance the investment opportunities and reduce the risks posed by climate change by asking around 6,000 of the world’s largest companies to report on their climate strategies, GHG (greenhouse gas ) emissions and energy efficiencies in a standardised format. Last year was the fifth year when CDP sent its annual request to top 200 Indian companies by market cap. Of these, only 63 participated and M&M, Tech Mahindra and Mahindra Satyam were among those who responded and hence were part of this Leadership Index. We were able to make the disclosures as we have started measuring and monitoring our environmental and social performance and have been striving to stay beyond compliance. This was done first using the GRI framework but soon after that, we also initiated measures going beyond GRI by staying cued to the growing and changing stakeholder expectations, especially of large investors. Hence we were able to stay ahead of the learning curve, make disclosures and hence get rated in this leadership index. The areas of voluntary disclosures are climate change related and GHG reduction strategies. • What is the governance structure within the organisation to design such strategies?• The identification of climate change-related risk/opportunities and whether the company is geared to deal with such risks and proactively convert such risks into opportunities.• The level of product responsibility towards reducing the environmental footprint in the manufacture and use of the product. • What is the intensity of the GHG emission from the product manufacturing process?• Does the company do carbon accounting and, if yes, is such accounting assured externally? M&M has evolved proper carbon managing systems and processes and has started to look at the sustainability risk drivers through a structured Sustainability Roadmap, monitoring and measuring emissions and scenario planning for dealing with these risks. We have also been very transparent and have participated in several voluntary disclosure programmes like CDP, Global Reporting Initiative, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and UN Global Compact.
At a product/plant level, what steps has M&M taken to provide eco-friendly products?
It has always been a Mahindra philosophy to design responsible products and services with regard to the environmental and social impacts. Here are some examples: • All Scorpio variants and 20 percent of Bolero variants are enabled with the micro (start/stop) hybrid system for enhanced fuel efficiency. • Pick-up trucks (TR-20, TR-40) have Federal Tier-2 BIN-5 and OBD II Compliance Certificate from the Environmental Protection Agency, USA.• Swaraj 843 XM tractor has a 42hp, fuel-efficient engine for greater pulling and load-carrying capacity, with lower emission, noise levels.• The Duro scooter uses lightweight panels and components for better fuel efficiency. • The 1.2-tonne Genio pick-up uses Load Sensing Proportion Valve (LSPV) technology in its brakes to adjust the braking pressure depending on the load and radial tubeless tyres.
What Mahindra Group initiatives can be replicated across any industrial sector, not necessarily auto?
To enhance resource efficiency in business and be sustainable, one needs to map and measure non-financial data. At Mahindra, we have started a carbon footprinting exercise for direct and indirect emissions from our business operations. We do this using conversion factors and parameters prescribed by WBCSD. We are learning as we go along, enhancing the scope of calculating our indirect emissions year after year.
What, in your view, must an automotive player in India today do to show a path for green leadership?
Innovation in using alternative materials and reducing dependence on natural resources, investment in clean technology, use of renewable and alternative energy and working collaboratively with government for having regulation that would encourage companies to take this route. Moreover, extending the knowledge of best practices in resource conservation, reduced emissions and good governance among its supply chain is becoming increasingly more critical for sustainable growth.
How can a company involve its employees top-down in creating a sustainable organisation?
Employee awareness is key to this entire initiative and for a meaningful rollout of any philosophy. When we started out on this journey in 2007, this was our first focus. It was a challenge as Mahindra has over 100,000 employees spread over diverse businesses with diverse profiles. Firstly, we created a brand with a message and a visual impact and called it ‘Alternative Thinking’. We were already an ‘Innovation-led’ group, so this mantra worked well. Under this thought, we spread the word differently to different employee groups – there were mailers, standees and posters for grass root awareness. We then put a layer of deep knowledge extension through talks and presentations to various professional groups including accountants, HR professionals, production heads, and plant managers explaining a business case of sustainability as relevant to them. We created a community of sustainability champions and took them through capacity building workshops. We even went to the extent of showing ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ translated in local languages to factory workers. But this is an ongoing exercise and we continue to apply ‘Alternative Thinking’ even in our communications approach.
Overall, what is the Mahindra Group’s green vision and how does it see this vision going forward?
We consciously stayed away from having a specific ‘Green Vision’. Firstly, the very use of the word ‘green’ tends to give an impression that it has to do only with the environment and hence, dilutes the challenge. Secondly, sustainability or the triple-bottom line approach of looking at our responsibility to the environment and societies in which we operate should be integrated in the way we do business, how we design our products, the way we strategise and grow. Hence, all concepts of sustainability are ingrained in our core purpose which says, ‘We will challenge conventional thinking and innovatively use all our resources to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders and communities across the world, to enable them to Rise.’
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