Toyota Kirloskar Motors: Evaluating a CSR Project

Toyota Kirloskar Motor Company Private Limited (TKM) was a leading car manufacturer in India, one engaged in a significant level of corporate social responsibility activities. TKM focused on health and hygiene issues in rural and semi-urban districts in India, as sanitation was a significant concern there. TKM’s efforts to facilitate the improvement of health and hygiene among its program beneficiaries had met with considerable success. The company was now looking to expand the project to increase its coverage. The ambitious multi-year program plan raised several questions: Could the number of targeted beneficiaries be achieved? What challenges were likely to arise? How should the company select an implementation partner?

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Marketers, leave them kids alone! Why it’s time to rein in the prying data mafia

A brand needs to have a reason for its existence, beyond its functional benefits. Its power is the experiences that it creates every day. When responsibility fails, so do brands. This is why the biggest risk to brands these days is not competitors, but unchecked, unfettered, dubious marketing practices devoid of any sense of responsibility towards the society.

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The Real Estate Sector has a Critical Role in Ensuring Carbon Footprint is Minimised

India is the seventh largest energy consumer in the world. Rapid urban transformation and development in recent times have meant that 33% of the nation’s energy usage goes towards building blocks for commercial and residential purposes. Moreover, this is growing 8% each year. Studies have also revealed that almost 5% of humanity’s total carbon footprint is a result of activities in the construction industry. This is unlikely to come down as demand for residential and commercial properties continues to rise unabated. The real estate sector has a critical role in ensuring that the carbon footprint is minimised.

Adarsh Developers, a real estate company in Bangalore has started utilising their sustainability practice to support and create a green environment. According to Rajagopalan TS, Vice President, Projects, “We are committed to making our construction process and our buildings sustainable. This is something we incorporate in our thought process right from the design stage.”

Adarsh’s interest in sustainability started many years ago when it was installing an STP (sewage treatment plant) for one of their projects and using the treated water for landscaping and in toilets for flushing. They also diverted stormwater to a nearby lake thus replenishing water in the lake and increasing groundwater. From then onwards, Adarsh has taken many initiatives to be sustainable. Their newer projects  follow the IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) parameters and are pre-certified.

The company undertakes many actions that make their buildings sustainable, many of which are around water use as Bangalore invariably suffers from water shortages. By substituting traditional flush equipment with modern ones, the water requirement is reduced from 20 litres in traditional flushes to about 3 litres at a minimum. By installing smart meters, quantification of water usage helps homeowners to conserve water. Also, a dual piping system ensures that treatable water can be used for non-potable purposes like bathing and kitchen. The provision of aerators in water fixtures also helps reduce water usage. Rainwater harvesting systems with recharge pits are created and roof rainwater used to reduce consumption of freshwater. Stormwater ponds are designed to collect overflow from rainwater harvesting pumps. Underground recharge wells are provided below the rainwater harvesting pump to raise groundwater levels. Instead of using interlocking or rigid pavers, Adarsh has started using flexible pavers for internal paths. This promotes water percolation leading to recharging of groundwater. By substituting Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) with blended cement, both water usage and carbon footprint is reduced. The company known for its landscaping uses drought resistant plants so as to reduce water consumption.

Although water tends to be the focus for Adarsh, it pays attention to other areas as well. To reduce timber usage, it is replacing woodenwindows with recyclable UPVC material. Wooden doors are replacing engineered doors – instead of sold blocks of wood waste thus reducing dependence on timber. Use of variable concrete cast bricks minimises the weight of the building improves thermal insulation and reduces carbon footprint. Use of clay tile for roofing provides thermal comfort to the residents. The use of GGBS (Ground-granulated blast-furnace slag) concrete reduces its carbon footprint. Home automation provides both safety as well as promotes the conservation of resources. Rajagopalan TS says “Our actions are not governed by regulations alone. We believe that we need to do something for the environment.”

The construction industry contributes to increased suspended particulate matter levels in cities leading to poor air quality, “We take this very seriously and take numerous measures to combat this” says Rajagopalan TS. Vehicles carrying materials are covered with tarpaulin to avoid dust generation. The approach road to the projects is either asphalted or paved to ensure that fugitive emissions are reduced. Barricades of sufficient height are provided to prevent construction dust from travelling outside the site area. Regular sprinkling is undertaken on open grounds to ensure that dust remains settled.

With the growing importance of sustainable living, the focus is squarely on the construction industry to provide buildings that have a long service life and promote high performance by minimising environmental impact and maximising recycling of materials. Although the real estate industry has read the signs of the times and is changing course, the pace of change is far slower than desired.

(Based on a conversation with Rajagopalan TS, Vice President, Projects, Adarsh Developers. For the Responsible Futurescape Blog

So, what is the social responsibility of an alcohol company – or is it even possible for an alcohol company to be socially responsible?

Movies in the 60s and 70s invariably distinguished between the hero and the villain based on their alcohol habits. The hero abstained and the villain mostly drank too much and misbehaved. Today though, things are different, as alcohol has been given social legitimacy in many segments of society. Alcoholic beverages are now part of weddings, company events and family celebrations. But, even while social drinking has gained acceptance, our society is also grappling with alcohol misuse. People who drink excessively can become a public nuisance and incite domestic violence. Underage drinking is unhealthy for young children. Drinking and driving leads to accidents and loss of lives. The problems are many and multifaceted.

So, what is the social responsibility of an alcohol company – or is it even possible for an alcohol company to be socially responsible? Abanti Sankaranarayanan – Chief Strategy & Corporate Affairs Officer Diageo India and a member of its Executive Committee, says, “Our ambition is to be the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products companies in India. Playing a positive role in society is at the heart of this.” The company focuses on three key areas globally – reducing environmental impact, building thriving communities and leadership for alcohol in society.

As an industry frontrunner, reducing alcohol misuse and championing moderation in alcohol consumption, is a boardroom conversation and not a peripheral activity for the ‘CSR Department’. Diageo plc Chairman Javier Ferran, is also Chairman of the CEO Group at the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), which brings together the 11 largest alcohol producers in the world to encourage moderation and tackle harm.
Abanti says, “Our view of ‘Alcohol in Society’ starts with recognizing that alcohol when consumed excessively or harmfully, can cause problems for individuals, communities, and society. Even when consumed moderately and responsibly by adults who choose to drink, alcohol can be part of a balanced lifestyle, Diageo plays a constructive and significant role in reducing alcohol harm, working in partnership with governments, NGO’s and civil society. The company focuses on reducing alcohol-related harm through programmatic interventions and also seeks to provide consumers with the information and tools they need to make informed choices about drinking or not drinking, what to drink and how much to drink. This year, IARD members have committed to address the use of technology and data in digital marketing, to ensure that they are targeting adult consumers in a responsible way.

As part of the strategy for reducing alcohol-related harm, Diageo has set 20 ambitious targets to achieve the UN’s Global Goals and support WHO programmes on health, such as the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.

Beyond addressing alcohol misuse, Road Safety is an area of focus in India. Diageo’s ‘Road to Safety’ in its 5th year running, is based on four ‘Es’ — Education, Enforcement (of rules and regulations), Emergency (Services) and Engineering . The program is implemented through a host of partners such as police departments, universities, state and central governments and more.

And this is not all – Diageo’s community investment and programmes promote skills and employability, empowers women and increases access to clean water. The company is working with women in local communities around the company’s over 50 bottling plants in semi-urban and rural areas of the country. Abanti talks about how important it is to find the right interventions to help rural women find sustainable livelihoods. She says, “We want to help people not just for their immediate needs, but for the long term. For instance, in Alwar a self-help group (SHG) of 20 women has been trained and supported to set up a micro enterprise to produce low cost sanitary napkins. They are producing and marketing their products to more than 20 villages now. We have worked with them through skilling, helping then set up the SHG and then supporting them in this initiative.”

Diageo’s Water of Life programme has reached over 10 million people in 21 countries since 2006, making a real impact on vulnerable communities. In India, the company has setup water ATM’s in Nagpur and Bhopal. Apart from making much needed clean drinking water available to people, the water ATMs also provide employment to many women.

Over the last decade, Diageo worldwide has reduced carbon emissions from direct operations by 41% and from the entire supply chain by 23%. Diageo is now focusing on investments in renewable energy and water efficiency, as well as reducing and recycling plastics.

Diageo takes its responsibility towards the society seriously. Not only does it work to mitigate the negative aspects of alcohol by promoting responsible consumption but makes a genuine contribution to the society through its work on water, uplifting women entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship. By working alone and in partnership with companies in the industry, Diageo sticks to its credo of being the most trusted and respected company.

In conversation with Abanti Sankaranarayanan – Chief Strategy & Corporate Affairs Officer Diageo India and a member of its Executive Committee. For the Responsible Future blog

Can LNG play a role in India’s path to clean energy?

The link between rising prosperity and increasing climate change is a real one. This is because increasing living standards for expanding populations worldwide means dependence on reliable modern energy for lighting homes, making new things, e-commerce and more, which in turn leads to carbon emissions. By 2040, global GDP will likely double, and world population is expected to reach 9.2 billion people, up from 7.4 billion today. Asia will add the most people with a significant number moving out of poverty and therefore adding to additional energy demand.

India’s growth and energy story is also likely to follow a similar path. The big question is, “How can India grow and at the same time protect the environment?” says Bill Davis CEO South Asia of ExxonMobil.   As per ExxonMobil’s own Energy Outlook India’s current energy mix is approximately 46% coal, 23% oil, 1% nuclear energy, 1% wind and solar, 23% other renewables (including traditional bio-mass) and 6% natural gas. India is expected to follow the worldwide trend of increasing energy efficiency and a move towards renewables to help manage emissions. As electricity use rises, the types of fuels used to generate electricity will include growing contributions from wind, solar, and natural gas.”

ExxonMobil forecasts global energy-related CO2 emissions are likely to peak by 2040 at about 10 percent above 2016 levels. Among the most rapidly expanding energy supplies will be electricity from solar and wind together growing about 400 per cent. The combined share of solar and wind to global electricity supplies is likely to triple by 2040, helping the CO2 intensity of delivered electricity to fall more than 30 per cent. What’s worth noting is that the shift in sources of energy is expected to be aided not just by renewables, but also by natural gas. Globally natural gas, which is cleaner than coal or oil, is expected to be used increasingly more than any other energy source, with about half its growth for electricity generation. Natural gas, when it’s cooled to -260°F, condenses and is referred to as liquefied natural gas, or LNG. In the form of LNG, natural gas can be efficiently transported over great distances to places like India, where a significant part of the gas consumption is expected to be imported to supplement limited local production.

Bill believes that to combat climate change, India needs a balanced blend of growth with low emissions. He says, “We look at India and its goal to double GDP and also to drive manufacturing through its “Make in India” program as an opportunity to drive growth through clean energy. We believe that natural gas can be an important part of driving this ambition. Clean energy is the need of the hour for the industry, for transportation for the residential sector and most importantly for the power sector for three main reasons. Firstly, natural gas resources are geographically and geologically diverse, abundant, reliable and versatile in use (power generation; residential, commercial, industrial heating and cooking; and even transportation). That makes natural gas both reliable and scalable. Scalability is key in India — a nation with rapidly rising energy demand. Secondly, as renewable power continues to grow as a source of electricity, natural gas-fired power generation stands out as a strong complement to renewables to ensure a reliable and resilient power grid. This efficient, flexible power source is ready to supplement dips in renewable energy at night and on cloudy and windless days. Thirdly, and most importantly, natural gas emits significantly fewer pollutants than coal power generation, including NOx, SOx, particulates, mercury, and up to 60 percent fewer GHGs.”

Bill says that decision making around energy needs to factor in long term gains which can only be achieved by doing the “hard math”.  That means sitting down and counting all things that happen when you choose a particular energy source. It’s not just the cost per unit of energy – it’s about the value created in terms of a cleaner environment, more reliable power, and a strengthened economy. “Because at the end of the day what really matters is how this improves the lives of Indians,” he added. He further adds, “For this to work, it’s going to take a long-term view, investment in infrastructure, regulatory stability and sound policies to get gas to consumers in a cost-effective and timely way.  Now is the time for India to shape its own energy  and what’s clear is that natural gas can be part of the solution.”

(Based on a conversation with Bill Davis, Chief Executive Officer and Lead Country Manager, South Asia for ExxonMobil Gas India Pvt. Ltd.)

Read it at the Responsible Future blog