At The Seventh Sustainability For Breakfast

The seventh edition of Sustainability for Breakfast was graciously hosted by Wipro Limited at their verdant campus in Electronics City, Bangalore on the cloudy morning of the 3rd of July 2018.

Distinguished speakers from industry and from academia came together to brainstorm on the theme of “ESG Disclosures: A Transformation from Tactical to Strategic”.

Distinguished speakers from industry and from academia came together to brainstorm on the theme of “ESG Disclosures: A Transformation from Tactical to Strategic”.

The key takeaway from all three sessions was the fact that while ESG Risks aren’t integrated into Enterprise Risk Management processes at the moment at most enterprises, it will be critical going forward given how important investors, particularly institutional investors believe ESG Risks are.

First Session


The drivers of change and global best practices in ESG Disclosures. What sets the leaders in this space apart?

Jatin Dalal (Chief Financial Officer of Wipro Limited) and Deepak Padaki (Executive Vice President, Strategy & M&A, and Chief Risk Officer of Infosys Technologies Limited) gave short presentations on the sustainability practices at their respective organisations, both of which are considered leaders in their approach to sustainability in India. They then participated in a panel discussion moderated by Ankush Patel (Chief Executive Officer of Treeni Sustainability Solutions).

One of the highlights of the discussion was the insight that while ESG Risks can easily translate into Financial Risks for large organisations, because ESG Risks tend to present themselves over longer time frames (and therefore have significantly lower Velocity than Financial Risks), boards tend not to prioritise them.

Deepak Padaki lamented that, while they should ESG Risks do not elicit the same kind of reaction from Boards as Data Security does, and also made the point that strategy and risk are two sides of the same coin, the importance of strategy should reflect in a focus on risks.

Jatin Dalal highlighted Culture Risk as an example of an ESG Risks that has immense financial implications for enterprises. He also highlighted the difficulty of balancing ‘easy to cut items that have long term implications, and
difficult to cut items that have short term implications.’

Second Panel Discussion


What changes does it require in terms of changes in attitude, mindsets, organizational culture, and values?

The second session was a panel discussion that focused on what an organisation needs in terms of attitudes, mindsets, culture and values in order to drive transformation.

 Sunita Cherian (Senior Vice President, Human Resources of Wipro Limited) sought to dispel the cynicism about leading enterprises doing ESG disclosures just to tick a box on a checklist. She brought her own experience at Wipro to bear on the discussion and highlighted how organisations learned a lot from gaps identified through its ESG disclosures. In the context of ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ it was gratifying to note Wipro’s progressive approach to addressing LGBT issues formally.

Shankar Jaganathan (Founder & Chief Executive Officer of CimplyFive) was of the opinion that it would take a few organisations to innovate, in terms of leveraging disclosures not as a hygiene factor but as a strategic tool to learn from, before the rest follow.  He also made the important distinction that increasingly ESG Disclosures need to come with a guide to interpret them.   

Padmini Srinivasan (Professor, Centre for Corporate Governance, IIM Bangalore) noted that although a lot of companies are focused on sustainability, few if any have integrated ESG Risks in Enterprise Risk Management. She observed that change would have to be driven through investors, but there was a long way to go before that happened on a large enough scale.

Speaker Presentations


The final session began with Pallavi Singh (Principal Consultant, Treeni Sustainability Solutions) walking the audience through the complex world of disclosures, standards, and frameworks.

She highlighted the fact that most frameworks and standards were incremental in nature, and organisations needed to move from one to another based on the maturity of their ESG processes instead of jumping to whichever one caught the Board’s fancy.

After that I got the opportunity to present a sustainability software product’s vision.

I demonstrated how ReSustain could help enterprises identify, assess, and manage their ESG Risks in a systematic manner. The product allows the Chief Sustainability Officer and the Chief Risk Officer to collaborate in order to present the leadership with an accurate view of the enterprise’s ESG Risks.

Building Sustainable Value Chains

Learnings from the Fifth Edition of Treeni’s Sustainability for Breakfast (S4B)

Our recent edition of #S4B focused on how to incorporate sustainability in supply chain. This was arranged in association with Institute of Sustainable Communities. Newer standards, investor pressures, climate risks, social risks, and wide spread environmental pollution and social inequity are forcing companies to look at impacts beyond their own operations. Stakeholders are more focused on knowing how your business is sustainable and green. Supply chain forms one such part of any business, which plays an important role in making an organization sustainable.

Responsible Sourcing

Walmart’s contribution to incorporation of sustainability supply chain is legendary. They have been pioneers in this area since 2005 and launched their famous Walmart Supplier Assessment questionnaire and Index in 2009. Being one of the largest retailers in the world, responsible sourcing is an integral part of the Walmart business, and the company shared the processes, systems and technology interventions they are implementing to ensure they are not only a responsible company, employer, but also a responsible buyer. It is a great example of how large companies can be a great role model for the rest of the industry.

Working towards building Sustainable Communities

Institute of Sustainable communities’ presence is India is being felt through their work in establishing EHS+ centers in India. ISC believes in creation of sustainable communities and for this reason their work globally is helping create resilient supply chains. Suresh Kotla, Director (Sustainable Manufacturing), Institute for Sustainable Communities stated, “At ISC, we have been working with various global organizations to help them implement sustainable processes for building great supply chains. Large business houses will have to play a major role going ahead to mitigate the risk and to achieve sustainability in the supply chain.”

LCA approach to sustainable supply chain

Approach to supply chain from life cycle impact perspective is necessary to identify hotspots from both social and environmental perspective. Dr. Avantika Shastri from SABIC presented how life cycle approach to sustainability at SABIC has helped to define feedstock strategy, marketing of sustainable products, designing of products, assessment of megaprojects from sustainability perspective, technology development, and risk management.

 Inclusion of SMEs

Sustainability is not just a big corporation problem. Here are the top 4 hurdles faced by SMEs in implementing sustainability in their operations.

  • Limited understanding of the strategic importance of sustainability
  • Availability of suitable and affordable technology platforms to manage sustainability initiatives
  • Supporting government policies.
  • Access to sustainable investments.

Suppliers need to be deeply engaged and technology enabled, for innovation and for building resilient value chain, without which SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) cannot be met.

Technology Enablement

Vital to this is technology enablement of sustainability in the supply chain. Some of the key areas of technology enablement are:

Real time data capture

To trace data for multiple tiers of suppliers. Big Data, Mobile Applications, social media, IoT, etc.

 Traceability through data

To trace where the materials were coming from all the way from source of origin. Blockchain, QR codes, ERP, Online surveys.

 Transparency and collaboration in Business models

For reduced costs, delivery times, liability. VMI (vendor managed inventory), PRO (producer responsibility organizations), product design, etc.

Better (remote) connectivity and faster service

To ensure reaching remote areas and faster service. Drones, glocal business models, mobile apps

 Predictive Logistics

To infer effects of climate change, social movements/unrest, distances, etc. GIS, maps with real-time traffic and other data

 Corporate Responsibility

To enable tracking of carbon, water or other footprints and to collaborate with suppliers to reduce their footprint and address fair trade practices and ethical sourcing.


Enterprise players across the globe have been working towards the implementation of sustainability practices in their operations. Collaboration with suppliers can be achieved through the implementation of scientific tracking and reporting methods and enable enterprises to create real impact. Governments and enterprise must enable inclusion of sustainable practices for SMEs.

Impact of industry on biodiversity

India accounts for just 2.4% of the world land area, yet supports 7% of globally recorded species and 18% of human population. Due to industrialization and aggressive economic development, biodiversity has been impacted significantly leading to inefficient use and exploitation of natural resources. This impact has led to a gradual and in some cases rapid extinction of species and loss of green cover. With growth and development taking center stage, biodiversity will become an important criterion for industries to consider as they build a sustainable business. Biodiversity conservation has become crucial for providing livelihood and improving socioeconomic conditions, and therefore to accelerate sustainable development, businesses need to be willingly involved in environmental protection and a sustainable approach to the use of natural resources .

While there are many businesses already focusing on biodiversity as an important aspect of doing business the right way, there is a need to discuss, learn from each other, and come up with new ideas to scale biodiversity solutions while achieving sustainable growth. The Government has also outlined certain policies to follow through in its Biological Diversity Rules (2004), and the use of technology to track and monitor industry’s impact on biodiversity, has enabled an environment for the industry to focus on bio diversity as an integral part of their business operations.

Treeni Sustainability Solutions in association with TATA Motors Limited cordially invite you to join us for our fourth installment of Sustainability for Breakfast, where we will understand, discuss, and attempt to come up with recommendations and solutions that can be implemented for biodiversity protection and preservation by businesses. This session will be followed by lunch.

S4B 4.0 Key Objectives

To understand, define and explore the impact of industry on biodiversity Share how companies have been focusing on biodiversity and the initiatives undertaken Discuss ideas to achieve scale in addressing biodiversity Understand the role of technology in helping industries achieve sustainable focus on biodiversity.

Role of Technology in CSR Enablement

CSR impact measurement gets a technology boost!

CSR has gone beyond philanthropy and has become an important pillar of sustainability, a way for enterprises to get their employees engaged with their communities around critical issues like education and healthcare, besides being a mandate in India. Through the efforts of UNGC and the commitment of most countries globally we are also seeing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) getting aligned with sustainability and CSR strategies of companies. As mentioned by UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon “Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing business and building markets.” Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions. Companies in India are looking beyond the 2% CSR contribution to add value to the larger SDG goals through their sustainability and CSR initiatives.

Technology will be a key enabler in CSR, rich data and communication technology enables companies to solve social and environmental problems at scale. Technology enablement in CSR achieves:

CSR impact measurement

Help in gathering project details, tasks, budgets, disbursements, manage stakeholder interactions, define and track output/outcome/impacts, reports and disclosures.

CSR connecting platforms

These platforms primarily help connect organisations with project partners. These are almost akin to match making solutions eg: BSE Samman

CSR enablers for projects

This is a vast area where the projects themselves are enabled via technology eg: digital education, assistive technology for disabled etc.

At the 3rd Treeni S4B (Sustainability for breakfast) event in Bangalore on the May 24th we would like to engage with CSR executives to discuss CSR impact measurement. One of the biggest challenges for enterprises in implementing CSR programmes is their inability to measure the direct impact on communities and society at large, and the intangible but very important impact on the brand and reputation. CSR impact monitoring tools to measure social impact is dynamic and evolving rapidly. An innovative technological intervention can help solve this challenge of measurement, monitoring and therefore, acting as an enabler for companies to participate in creating social value. Using technology to solve CSR challenges can provide the much-needed impetus for more organizations to engage deeply in, not just spending 2% of profits, but investing back into society for a measurable, monitored and sustained impact, and thereby aligning to the larger SDGs and value creation.

4 Activities that will become ‘De-Facto’ for running profitable ventures by 2020 in the Circular Economy

At 10PM Friday evening, over a mug of hot Irish coffee, I was reflecting on the day’s Treeni’s ‘Sustainability for Breakfast’ series catch-up with sustainability practitioners and leaders. I have been through many events and talks around sustainability till date, but today was different. The audience engaged actively and without holding back, what followed was an hour long intense action oriented discussion. Much has been said about circular economy and all the sustainability/ marketing leaders, CEOs/ MDs, know that circularity is the future.

Will answering the following 2 questions help these leaders initiate action in Circular Economy?

  1. Will it be commercially profitable to start running my operations in a circular manner?
  2. How can we make it commercially profitable and sustainable on growth metrics?

“We are now part of the Circular Economy” might be an overwhelming thought for the leaders in any industry.

We neither have to get circularity right in the first attempt, nor do we have to do everything in circularity at one go. Circularity is a thought process and it’s about starting the journey without having to necessarily disrupt everything that we do right now. Achieving excellence in being circular in operation is a continuous process, it’s a matter of habit after we start.

Following are result oriented actions that can be taken by progressive leaders, without a lot of change immediately, and be leaders in enacting Circularity:

  1. Save at least 20% cost on material acquisition: Lookout for 2 companies that produce the best quality by-products of input value to your business (such as information, materials, water, energy, infrastructure, and natural resources).  tart exploring alternatives to material acquisition through their by-products and tie-up with them for sourcing.
  2. Identify 2 end of life revenue opportunities for your products: Identify 2 potential uses of your products after its end of life, first without changing the underlying design of the product. These could be recycling or refurbishing them for further use in similar or different usage area or circled back into your business.
  3. Use innovation for improved branding and remarketing: Above 2 actions are fertile grounds for innovation. Large enterprises are creating patents through the work in the above 2 areas. Patents have potential to create amazing brand value. This is useful to drive value of refurbished/ recycled products in buyer community by highlighting how they will contribute to sustainability and Circular Economy by buying these products.
  4. Insights based actions: Ability to measure sustainability impact of each action on either side (positive and negative) and using those insights is the key to success for all of the above. Look at technologies that can potentially offer real time visibility to this impact and are able to create a simulated result dashboard for actions in Circularity.

One of the most interesting takeaways for me personally from this breakfast catch-up has been the ‘Hyper Collaboration of Patented technologies’ in the Circular Economy. Sharing of patents by Elon Musk in 2014 changed the way companies look at patents to create a larger social value. Circularity demands collaboration.

Treeni ‘Sustainability for Breakfast’ discussions need to lead to tangible actions for all participants. Reflecting back, it was indeed a nourishing day in terms of inputs from all participants! The coffee was over and so was the day for me.

Circular Economy


Nature is made up of different cycles, whether it is the seasons, water, or even human life, and our responsibility as businesses on this earth is to take inspiration from the cyclical nature of the earth and use it in our manufacturing processes. A circular economy allows us to retain the value of material longer, ensure it is kept in circulation and increase the longevity of any product. In a circular economy, the damage to the environment is reduced, due to increased durability, reuse, reparability, remanufacturing and recycling of products and materials. Both products and materials ‘circulate’ in the economy far longer, rather than passing quickly through it, becoming garbage and pollution. What was waste once may now become feedstock and boost the productivity of the organisation. A circular economy fuels sustainability, and besides the environmental benefits, a sustainable approach can help any business to save costs, explore untapped opportunities for business, and even create employment. To ensure that the circular economy becomes a fully inclusive model of development, there is a need to make it accessible and implementable for all. This means actively creating pathways to success for small-to-medium entities and emerging economies. We can move from take, make, dump approach to a design, source, make, rent, repair/refurbish, Return, Recycle approach. The circular economy is a system of great potential for economic, social and environmental progress in inclusive and equitable models of strategy and development. But to start on the path to success, we need brave first movers to understand how circular economy expands the core business model — and take actions at decisive points in the system where their impact will be maximized.

Companies Attending:
Mahindra CIE
Mahindra Sanyo
Tech Mahindra
Tata Motors Ltd.
Tata Tech
Sterlite Technologies
Whirlpool India