Godrej Group aims to be ‘Good & Green’

Community waste management-Swachh centre at Hyderabad

Godrej Industries recognises CSR, not only as a policy, but as a way of doing business and connecting with the community. On any given day, around 1.1 billion people use Godrej products globally, thus, sustainability is an integral part of their business and value chain, ensuring that they provide high quality, affordable goods for the masses. Dr. Vikas Goswami, Head – CSR and Sustainability (Good and Green), Godrej Industries Group, shares more with Corporate Saints in an exclusive chat –

Priyanka Saxena Ray

Since when has Godrej been carrying out its CSR initiatives? Was it before CSR was made mandatory by law or after it?

The Godrej Group has been at the forefront of philanthropic and social activities for several decades. Nearly one-fourth of the shares of the Group’s holding company, Godrej and Boyce, are held in a trust that invests back in initiatives that support the environment, as well as to improve the quality and availability of healthcare and education. As part of the trust’s initiatives, we continue to preserve and care for the largest privately managed belt of mangroves in Mumbai, and run the Godrej Udayachal Schools, and the Godrej Memorial Hospital for quality education and affordable healthcare. 

At Godrej Industries, we recognise CSR not only as policy but as a way we do our business and connect with our community. On any given day, 1.1 billion people use our products globally. Sustainability is an integral part of our business and value chain that helps us provide high quality, affordable goods for the masses. 

In 2011, we took a closer look at our operations and impact, and engaged multiple stakeholders to understand opportunities, prioritise our initiatives and renew our focus. This led to the formulation of our sustainability strategy, ‘Good and Green’ which is one of our four key imperatives for our business vision. 

The sustainability strategy makes our businesses more accountable to the community while we continue to drive our shareholder value. It helps us improve the lives of those at the base of the pyramid, preserve the environment, improve efficiency of our operations and innovate. As part of ‘Good and Green’, the Godrej Group aspires to create a more employable Indian workforce, a greener India and innovate for good and green products. 

Our team members also form an integral part of our initiatives. Through Brighter Giving, a structured volunteering platform, our team members offer their time and skills to help address a non-profit organisation’s needs. 

We are also codifying our efforts and detailing policies on human rights, biodiversity, sustainable palm oil sourcing and water, among others.

What are the various CSR initiatives/projects that Godrej is currently working on in India?
Over the years, we have aligned our sustainability efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, national priorities and the needs of our local communities, to deliver high-impact programmes that are easy to scale. Many of our initiatives are in
line with Government’s social development programmes and the priority needs of our communities. 

Enhancing livelihoods: We address a critical need of enhancing livelihoods of low-income group youth. We collaborate with non-profit organisations to design and run a number of employability training programmes for young people from low-income communities. We improve the earning potential of our trainees, by building their skills, providing post-training support and empowering them. As of June 2017, we have trained over 268,000 youth in skills that enhance their earning potential. Some of our programmes are in beauty and hair care, animal husbandry and construction and facilities management. 

Integrated Watershed Management: Around the world, climate change is affecting seasonal weather patterns, leading to either intense precipitation
or drought-like events. We are working in partnership with NABARD to help restore the ecological balance of regions and mitigate the risk of climate change for the local farmers in drought-prone regions of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. We are conserving and developing close to 10,000 hectares of land and aiming to help restore over 10 million kilo-litre of water. 

Community Waste Management: Beyond taking measures to reduce, reuse and recycle waste at our manufacturing plants, we have initiated community waste management projects with the aim to divert waste from landfills. We are working in partnership with local municipalities and colleges to process their waste in an environmental friendly manner which otherwise would end up in landfill. We have initiated several community waste management projects across India working with colleges in Mumbai, local municipality in Hyderabad and social enterprises in Guwahati. With these projects, we aim to divert close to 10,000 tonnes of waste annually from landfill. 

Elimination of Vector Borne Endemic Diseases (EMBED): We initiated the EMBED project with the aim to reduce morbidity and mortality due to Malaria and Dengue in regions reporting high Annual Parasitic Index (API). We collaborate with non-profits and governments, and aim to reduce mortality due to malaria in high API regions through our intensive behaviour change programme, community mobilisation and increased access to preventive services. In the first phase, we are working in Madhya Pradesh, a state with one of the highest malaria burdens in India. We have collaborated with non-profit organisations and the state government to run intensive behaviour change programmes. We are working with the vulnerable and marginalised groups living in tribal, hilly, and hard-to reach areas. The programme currently addresses 36 per cent of the malaria burden of the state.

Rural Electrification: To address the shortfall of energy supply, we are working to create renewable energy ecosystems in rural India. We provide decentralised, off-grid renewable energy systems through community level installations. We are installing these mini and micro-grids in 87 energy-dark villages in India. We are also training the local youth and building awareness on the potential of renewable energy systems for meeting rural energy needs. 

Community Development Initiatives: To better understand our stakeholders and implement high impact programmes we carried out a detailed community-needs assessment at our plant locations. We have covered communities living around 30 of our manufacturing plants and in line with the assessments, we have streamlined our activities to implement high impact community development projects that build education quality, provide clean water access and improve health and sanitation. 

What are areas where the company is keen on investing in times to come?

Within our operations, we are investing in sustainable sourcing and overall supply chain sustainability. As a company, we have always emphasised the procurement of raw materials in a responsible manner. As a best practice, our procurement team looks at not only the initial cost but also the life-cycle cost. Among the available alternatives, we prefer the one with the lowest life-cycle cost for procurement.

We are now working closely with suppliers and the manufacturing team to explore and implement recycle and reuse programmes that are beneficial to the environment, and create value add to our stakeholders. We aim at making our supply chain environmentally friendly and responsible. To this end, Godrej Consumer Products has crafted a sustainable procurement policy. They are now working with their top 100 suppliers to implement the policy on ground. In the next phase, we look to implement the policy for our other businesses and enable sustainable sourcing across all our companies. 

Additionally, we are in the process of adopting strong actionable policies within our organisation for solid waste management and sustainable palm oil sourcing, among others. We aim to move towards a regenerative design model where our raw materials are sourced responsibly, our manufacturing processes are environmentally efficient and our waste is recycled and reused in our processes and new products. This is an ambitious goal and needs years of collaboration; however, we are confident of working towards it with the support of our teams, business partners and consumers. 

Is there anymore information that you would like to share with us?

Volunteering is highly encouraged at Godrej. This year, 75 of our team members have dedicated their time and skills to long-term volunteering. Our volunteers will work to address a non-profit organisation’s needs. The projects range from mentoring an underprivileged child to building an NGO’s marketing plan and help it to set-up its digital presence. Till date, over 150 of our team members have been a part of our long-term volunteering programme. 

Additionally, we have day-long volunteering events, such as the Godrej Global Volunteering Day, which is a day dedicated to volunteering across the globe. In 2016, over 2330 of our team members across the world volunteered in 97 institutes and reached out to over 25,000 students to improve their teaching and learning experience. 

 

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