Which are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?
The ethos of CSR and Sustainability is deep rooted in our organisational culture and engrained into its Corporate Governance practices.
The approach to CSR stems from our vision to add value to the lives of all the stakeholders and foster inclusive growth. The organisation acknowledges the significance of its performance in relation to the society in which it operates, and its impact on the environment, both now and in the future. The social responsibility and sustainability commitment flows from this understanding and is based on its vision of growth, development and expectations of all its stakeholders. Based on this vision, the organisation showcases a sense of responsibility towards environment, labour, occupational health and safety and human rights. It strongly believes that in order to move up the value chain, it is critical to use fewer natural resources to produce more.
The structure is formalised through the constitution of a Sustainability Committee which has representation from the Management Board. This highlights the commitment of our top management to ensure that we drive our sustainability strategy forward. The Sustainability Committee is responsible for management of the sustainability statement and sustainability framework and also works towards achieving sustainability goals. In addition, there is a CSR committee, formulated as per requirement of Section 135 of Companies Act, 2013 and represented by our Board of directors. Broadly, our CSR work is carried out under the themes of Environment and Social, which includes Health and Community Development.
The key focus areas under Sustainability, for the organisation, are Climate Change Mitigation, which has initiatives for Greenhouse Gas Emission and Renewable Energy, and Community Development, implementing initiatives under health.
What have been some of the greatest challenges in realising your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past, and how has your company overcome them?
During the initial years of the HIV-AIDS awareness and prevention programme, which is our flagship (oldest) CSR project, because of the subject being taboo, our team found it difficult to have people come up and discuss about it. However, our sustained efforts using outreach workers, street plays and distribution of printed materials to raise awareness, helped people open-up and come forward with their queries, and understand about HIV-AIDS prevention.
For community development and environment related projects, especially the latter, the biggest challenge in our area of operation was the limited availability of expert NGOs and maintaining the quality of the programmes that we undertook. We overcame this challenge by sticking to the basics like following the standard operating procedures and the financial guidelines, in addition to regular monitoring and evaluation.
The “We Care” programme is centred around customers, employees, suppliers and dealers, and, community. This is unique in that it encompasses the complete value chain. Could you share the evolution and development of this programme?
The organisational strategy stems from the belief of creating value for all its stakeholders, namely employees, customers, communities, suppliers, dealers and all others, in the value chain while doing business and constantly re-orienting itself to meet their needs and expectations.
Employees are considered as pillars of success and are an integral part of our value chain. The HR vision of the organisation is to be a strategic partner to the business and create value for the organisation by developing the human capital. In line with this vision, we believe in empowering our employees and honing their skills. We make a conscious effort to ensure that a healthy workforce base is maintained, and safety needs of employees are met. We ensure and take steps to impart right knowledge and skills to them to enhance their growth in the organisation. This is done through structured training, development and leadership programmes both within the organisation and outside. Our commitment not only lies in imparting relevant training or learning experiences but also evaluating and rewarding performance.
Sales and Marketing activity is directly linked with customers. Hence it focuses on customer satisfaction, market intelligence, creating new market, conducting customer and dealer meets, creating marketing communication for above the line and below the line activities.
The Procurement function is the lead in our upstream value chain. It is our policy to deal directly with raw material suppliers and to be a strategic partner to the business. We invest quite extensively in our supplier management process to strengthen our long-term partnerships with them.
Disposal of rubber tyres is a serious problem. What can the industry do to improve the situation? What are Apollo Tyres’ plans?
As per a research commissioned by us, very soon India will have more than 100 million end-of-life tyres every year, without proper mechanisms in place to recycle or dispose of these tyres. As a responsible company, we have been working towards tackling the issues of discarded tyres. From expanding our retreading footprint, to Go The Distance football pitches in UK and India, and creating play structures made out of discarded tyres in Chennai, all showcase ways we have been working towards the reuse or recycling of discarded tyres.
Discarded tyres or end-of-life tyres, in India, are increasingly being consumed by the environmentally hazardous pyrolysis units in the unorganised sector. This has led us to commission another research to find out efficient and eco conscious ways to do pyrolysis.
What sustainability challenges do you see for Apollo Tyres in the future?
Apollo Tyres has taken a structured approach to integrate Sustainability into organisational Corporate Governance. It has formulated a Sustainability framework based on the international standard of ISO 26000. This is done with the objective of relooking at processes and aligning them with international best practices. It also gives us an opportunity to mainstream the material/business issues, which form critical sustainability parameters for the company.
On the economic front, the volatile raw material prices continue to pose challenges for the organisation, in addition to the dumping of low cost tyres, especially the truck-bus radials, from China.
On the social front, meeting the growing needs of the community where we operate, and all stakeholders at large, will always remain a challenge for the organisation.
We measure our strategic preparedness against these challenges on a frequent basis, and strive to overcome them in our quest to deliver value for all our stakeholders at every point in time.
In conversation with Mr. Onkar Kanwar, Chairman Apollo Tyres Ltd. (Original Post)