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FE CFO Awards: Strategy without ESG is irrelevant, says ITC Chairman & Managing Director Sanjiv Puri

Puri said that enterprises need to not only create economic capital but also need to simultaneously create social, and environmental capital.

ESG
Puri said that ITC has walked the talk over the years and is today at the centre of solving societal challenges. (Representational Picture)

ITC chairman and managing director Sanjiv Puri on Tuesday said that enterprises need to rework their strategies related to growth and competitiveness, and should focus on sustainability. Delivering the leadership talk at FE’s CFO awards, Puri said that climate emergency and sustainability are serious challenges today. He said that despite rapid technological advancement, progress cannot be made unless strategies of growth and competitiveness are redefined by enterprises to serve the larger purpose of making the world a better place.

“Any strategy today in my view, which is devoid of addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is outdated, irrelevant and can only be shortlived. There is no tomorrow without ESG,” Puri said.

“Today, the strategies, growth model, competitiveness should not only have agility, resilience, and digital edge but also bring to the centre, issues of sustainability and inclusivity,” he added. He said that enterprises need to not only create economic capital but also need to simultaneously create social, and environmental capital.

Puri said that ITC has walked the talk over the years and is today at the centre of solving societal challenges. “We are today carbon positive, water positive, solid waste recycling positive and our value chain supports 6 million livelihoods. Also, we have created economic returns for the shareholders,” Puri said.“I think the challenge is really about selection of the business model and selection of strategies. And if that is done correctly, I believe it can actually create unique sources of competitive advantage,” he said.

In agriculture, which is key area of operation for ITC, Puri said the company has created value for both enterprises and the society with its digital ecosystem ITC MAARS (Meta Market for Advanced Agricultural Rural Services) as well as climate smart agriculture. Puri also talked about the company’s water management programme and how it has created rainwater harvesting capacity. He applauded the growing share of services sector in the export basket but stressed the need to create sustainable tourism. He said that the tourism sector has the potential to act as an enormous economic multiplier.

“The discerning consumers in the world are opting for anything that integrates well with sustainability. So we have an opportunity to reposition tourism. An entire ecosystem around sustainable tourism has to be created,” he said. Puri said that Indian companies need to focus on research and development as spends in India is less than half of global average. “That’s an area where I think we need to work collectively. It’s  critical for success,” he said.He also said that we should take advantage of our demographic dividend by focusing on skilling, reskilling and upskilling. “That’s the only way, we will be able to get inclusive growth,” he said.

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First published on: 10-05-2023 at 06:30 IST