Steel, Power, Infrastructure, Education, People’s Health & Nutrition are the Basic Building Blocks of India’s Economy

Which are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?

Sustainability at Jindal Steel & Power quite literally means ensuring the business’s sustenance and longevity. The sustainability department is placed at the centre of the company’s various businesses and functions to ensure holistic and authentic growth of the company in the long term. There are Sustainability Officers located at every operation site.

What have been some of the greatest challenges in realising your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year, and how has your company overcome them?

One of the greatest challenges has been to have greater diversity and more importantly to ensure that diversity preserves its authentic voice within the organization. This is important because the manufacturing industry in India has an average of only 10% women. When I returned to India last year after living abroad my entire adult life I found that young people in India are still not accepted in the board room. There is a preference towards certain educational backgrounds such as engineering or MBA. In the past year JSPL has made it a priority to employ young and old, men and women, specially abled, and employees with various education backgrounds as they all bring diverse perspectives to the table. Diversity goes beyond the headcount issue… it is not only about what percentage of men or women one has in the company but ensuring that women and men do not have to change their behaviour to emulate the majority and still get work done successfully, they are able to match their aspirations with their roles within the organization, do not have wage disparity, have equal access to leadership. Today at JSPL, 27% employees are below the age of 30 and only 6.8% are above 60 years of age. Now we hire more women in our trainee programmes and have 17% women in our latest batch.

Keeping in mind the targets set in the Paris accord what do you see on the horizon for corporate sustainability initiatives? How can companies and government work together to achieve sustainability and CSR goals?

India’s historical cumulative carbon emission is fairly low, also one in five of India’s 1.3 billion population lives without electricity. India has less of a role in creating the climate change our planet faces today than our ability now onward to solve the issue. As one of India’s largest business conglomerates in the steel, power, infrastructure industry, we are providing millions of people in our country with jobs, shelter, education, roads, electricity. So this makes us an important partner to the government for improving the country’s carbon emissions intensity without compromising on India’s economic growth. To do so I feel the government and we in the private sector need to work together to solve the three main challenges of

access to new technologies for clean energy,
access to finance in order to test and deploy these technologies, and
together develop a supportive policy framework that works.

At JSPL technologies such as coal gasification for directed reduced iron production which is a far more environment friendly way for manufacturing steel, has been created in India by us for the first time in the world. It took us 5 years to get this plant running and despite the variety of hard challenges we never quit. In 2015 this technology was included by the United Nations Global Compact as one of India’s 19 most sustainable practices. Also students from Harvard University and MIT visited us in January 2015 to write a case study about it. With government support this technology can be further developed and deployed by other manufacturing companies as well.

What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?

Steel, power, infrastructure, education, people’s health & nutrition are the basic building blocks of India’s economy, which makes us a primary stakeholder of India’s growth story. JSPL’s sustainability priorities are therefore deeply interlinked with government policies and India’s overall growth path. The business sustainability priorities for JSPL in FY 2015-16 are as follows:

Procuring raw material at the most economical costs
Improving productivity of capital and employees
Creating a full-fledged Research & Development centre for energy and cost efficient steel production. We are creating this R&D centre at our Angul site location where we also run the coal gasification for DRI plant
Focusing JSPL’s social commitment towards education, health & nutrition, and infrastructure building. Scaling up substantially JSPL’s Chairman’s vision of stabilizing India’s population.
Ensuring continuous improvements in health, safety, and environment management at JSPL
Taking strides in further strengthening JSPL’s brand identity, and building greater synergies between JSPL’s domestic and international operations sites
Establishing and implementing a detailed stakeholder management plan at JSPL
Building a holistic, efficient, and happy work culture.

In conversation with Ms. Miniya Chatterji, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Jindal Steel and Power Group of Companies. (Original Post)