As always, we put people first when pandemic struck: Mahindra Group MD

The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the premise of the word ‘normal’. The economic and social disruption it has caused has been felt by mankind globally, whether it was a dramatic loss of human life, a devastation to public health or an existential threat to the world of work.

The last 15 months have challenged all of us in multiple ways; requiring communities, businesses, governments and the society at large to step up.

In unprecedented times like these, purpose-driven businesses that work towards the greater good of humanity, are more resilient, emerge stronger and adapt better to the ‘new normal’. We at the Mahindra Group have always espoused this belief. Our core purpose is to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders.

Very early on, we instituted multi-level ‘rapid action’ teams across businesses and locations, our first priority being the safety and well-being of our associates. While 200,000 employees adapted quickly to working from home, plant teams resumed operations in May last year, strictly adhering to government health advisories and protocols. After a brief shutdown, the value chain kicked into gear to ensure viable production despite several constraints.

Our ‘People First’ initiatives ensured that associates not only knew, but experienced the fact that we were firmly behind them; whether it was mental and physical well-being programmes, upskilling and access to educational opportunities, quarantine centres, medical and financial support, or vaccinations for them and their families.

Covid-19, while being a health risk, has also had severe economic repercussions. The poorest in our country are the most vulnerable, and the hardest hit. This necessitated alternative thinking and mobilisation of contributions from every source within the company, beyond donating generously.

We reimagined our engineering capabilities to manufacture PPE kits, aerosol boxes, face masks, shields and sanitizers – all needed to help local officials and healthcare workers to combat the pandemic.

Recognising that there is a huge segment of the most vulnerable within our ecosystem, we set up a Covid-19 Relief Fund at the Mahindra NSE -0.72 % Foundation. We strove to minimise pain for thousands of people in need, by providing meals, transport, food packets, rations and even tractors for harvesting.

Many of our businesses have been interacting with the affected communities. We work closely with governments and local authorities to provide oxygen concentrators, set up oxygen plants, enable last mile delivery of oxygen and build isolation centres. In addition, Tech M’s Nursing Academy staff and students are valuable assets at various hospitals.

Healthcare is an investment. We have made it available not only to our direct employees and plant workers, but also to our dealers and their families.

While the Covid-19 pandemic exposed us to multiple challenges, it has also presented us with the opportunity to look at the world differently. It has accentuated the need for resilience and agility in business, accelerated adoption of technology, digitization and environment regeneration practices, and redefined supply chains and customer experience in many cases.

Our focus on simplification, judicious capital allocation, cost control and creating value for our stakeholders, has ensured strong business performance for us even in a tough year.

Despite higher input prices and supply chain disruptions, the Group’s operating net profit (PAT) increased by 36 per cent and our growth in free cash flow generation in fiscal 2021 was robust.

As we emerge into the ‘new world’, businesses that put their people and purpose first, will rise.

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