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*Sustainability key to profit, says Nitin Paranjpe at CII HR Conclave*
Nov 25, 2021

Brands with purpose will grow. People with purpose will thrive. Companies with purpose will last. The purpose of being able to run Unilever’s business is to make sustainable living commonplace. A sustainable business can also be a high performing one.

Purpose is most important in the current scenario, said Mr Nitin Paranjpe, Chief Operating Officer, Unilever, at the 11th edition of the CII HR Conclave held on Thursday (November 25, 2021).

On the profitability of a company, Mr Paranjpe said: "Only 5 per cent of share price is driven by current gains. The rest is by future plans. To survive, we have to be sustainable. At Unilever, 99.59 per cent of shareholders endorsed our Climate Transition Action Plan. This goes to show they wanted that change."

Mr Paranjpe said in a post-pandemic world, India needs a new growth model where stakeholder wealth maximisation has to make way for purpose-led business to serve society.

He said: “There is zero disconnect between a sustainable business and delivering exceptional outcome. People question it but there is a possibility of having a new and different model of capitalism.”

In the coming years, sustainability will go beyond the environmental frontiers and the world now needs a Greta Thunberg for our societal concerns.

"Social dimension will be in focus. Demand for inclusion across more cultures is growing. Unilever believes, diversity drives innovation and growth but it needs an inclusive and safe culture to thrive,” he said.

Laying his blueprint on the future of work, Mr Paranjpe said:  "Vision has to be collective and individually relatable. Only then, will an employee be able to define his true role in the organisation. After all, no one wants to do a mediocre job."

Mr Paranjpe recalled an interaction with management guru, the Late C K Prahalad, who had said, a manager's mindset is to manage resources. His ambition is directly proportional to his resources. However, an entrepreneur is driven by a mismatch between ambition and resources. With barely a penny in his pocket, he can dare to fly to the moon. This propels innovation, a key success strategy in the post pandemic situation.

Dwelling on his experiences during the Covid pandemic, Mr Paranjpe said, "It has raised new questions. Many changes came faster. Some long-held beliefs are changing. We have to be ready before the next crisis comes."

Mr Paranjpe also stressed the concept of Agile, which has been embraced by many countries. This has not only helped in employee engagement through empowerment of frontline workers but also raised production by 10-30 per cent.

Earlier, in his theme address, Mr Sanjay Behl, Chairman, CII National Committee on Leadership and HR & Co-founder & CEO, EVP Global Marketing, underscored the need to power growth with head, heart and courage.

Mr Behl felt, in a post-pandemic world, one needs to invest more in the human aspect where employees feel more valued by their organisations. “Growth, sustainability and inclusion will go a long way to build fluid organisations of the future,” he said.

He added, we need the head - to re-imagine, re-purpose and reset, the heart – to build the new future with compassion for both physical, emotional and mental well-being of our employees, and courage – to seize the initiative and make bold moves towards inclusion and sustainability.

Irrespective of how businesses have been affected by the pandemic around the world, 2021 is the time for us to reflect on the ideas we relied on during 2020 and whether they will endure. At the turn of our newest decade, smart businesses across the world were working towards creating an agile organisation to anticipate and respond to change, which many rightly felt was the only constant for the future of work.

Opening remarks at the conclave were made by Mr Sumit Mitra, co-chairperson of the conclave and head, group HR and corporate services, Godrej Industries Limited.

Ms Indrani Kar, Principal Adviser, CII & Head of CII-Suresh Neotia Centre for Excellence for Leadership made the concluding remarks.

25 November 2021

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