REPORT 27/NOV/2014: Sitting at a panel discussion in Davos in January 2011, the strategy savant, Michael Porter and Anand Mahindra were debating \"A Social Contract for The 21st century\". Porter was pushing the idea that business shouldn\'t just be about creating economic value but about creating value for society. Anand Mahindra was chuffed. The Mahindra group had just launched its Rise program that was all about doing well by doing good and positive change. \"I told Professor Porter we started Rise before you wrote that seminal article in HBR where you introduced the shared values concept so I am not paying you any royalty for the article or rather the royalty should be reversed,\" laughs Mahindra. \"I said, I hope you give me a good grade after so many years, I am still looking for a grade.\" Porter, who had taught Mahindra the nuances of strategy at Harvard Business School, gave him an A. And anyone who has studied the Mahindra Group\'s progress will tell you that Anand has worked hard to get that grade. For Mahindra personally, it has been a three step journey that started with the focussing of scattered philanthropic activities of the group. Then the approach shifted to \'strategic philanthropy\', a concept floated by Porter that propounds intelligent giving. Now the Mahindra Group has upped the bar a notch by migrating to the \'shared values\' concept, wherein business and CSR strategies are intermeshed.
Mahindra was clear that sustainability was to be embedded in the culture of the group. That led to the articulation of \'Alternative Thinking the Mahindra Approach to Sustainability\' that stated that sustainability wasn\'t just going to be about planting trees, saving water or cutting emissions. It was to be a much deeper call to action that would be a spring board for innovation, an execution philosophy and a mantra to build competitive and future ready business models. \"We have unleashed a powerful energy that will be a catalyst for change,\" says Rajeev Dubey, President (Group HR, Corporate Services & After-Market). As part of aligning philanthropy and social service, Mahindra has a new rallying cry, Rise for Good, which has a much larger scope putting together governance, community, environment, and people practicies in one bucket. \"Rise for Good is a holistic philosophy. We have even built some businesses like Mahindra Rural Housing Finance on the Rise for Good philosophy. We have even gone ahead and made investments in electric cars knowing it\'s not a money making proposition,\" adds B Karthik, Corporate Brand Management.
Of course, while the larger program of Rise for Good is being seeded in the organisation, standard sustainable activities like lowering energy consumption are chugging along. Twelve businesses logged a lower specific energy consumption as compared to the previous year; H2 Infinity, the water conservation program is gathering momentum; and the green house gas reduction targets were surpassed by 20 per cent. The Mahindra Group report states that companies that cumulatively contribute 85 per cent to the Group turnover have a functioning roadmap for sustainability. So how does the Mahindra sustainability engine work? Given the federal structure of the group, some activities are taken up by the corporate office while some activities run individually. Overseeing the sustainability and philanthropic efforts is a 20-member CSR council, that charts out the plans for the focus areas: the girl child, environment and public health. The group spends about Rs 160-170 crore a year and half the amount relates to projects like Nanhikalis, Mahindra Pride schools, Mahindra College of Engineering and the balance is spent on the communities where the group has operations.