The Intersection of Doing Good Business and Doing the Right Thing

We live in the age of conscious capitalism. Good governance is par for the course. Businesses are expected to operate with a “conscience.” This involves being ethical and being a good corporate citizen. This is the Mahindra way of doing business, which is rooted in our DNA.

When Mahindra first went public, co-founder K. C. Mahindra set aside some shares for the company’s employees. When several employees wrote to thank him, he acknowledged their affection and thanked them in a memo which stated, “It’s nice to have money, but it’s nicer to have the things that money can’t buy.” Reputation and good governance have been part of the DNA of the Mahindra Group from its inception. There are many times we have chosen to be transparent, despite there being no mandate on us. For example, we have been reporting back to our shareholders about corporate governance since long before the law in India made it mandatory. There are many ways by which we have institutionalized the highest benchmarks of corporate working and behaviours in our processes. We have articulated a set of core values and corporate governance policies that are open for anybody to see, and we have structures like the Corporate Governance Council firmly in place to ensure that all governance issues are effectively and transparently addressed.

The Mahindra Group is a federation of diverse businesses united by a set of core values and a common purpose, which we refer to as “Rise.” How we do business (with a conscience) and why we are in business (to enable our stakeholders and the communities we serve to “Rise”) anchors and unites us as a group.

We remain strongly rooted in our core values of professionalism, good corporate citizenship, a customer- first approach, focus on quality, and dignity of the individual.

Driven by a Common Purpose and Core Values

Central to “Rise” is the spirit of innovation and the desire to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders. Our business endeavors are aligned to the three pillars of Rise:

Accepting No Limits expresses the all-pervading challenger spirit in the Mahindra Group. A case in point is Mahindra Finance extending loans to those with no formal credit history, to back their aspirations and enable them to “Rise.” As a result, we are today one of India’s largest non-banking financial companies.

Alternative Thinking is about finding unconventional solutions. Our tractors and SUVs are powered by diesel engines. We realized that bringing electricity to power-starved parts of India was essential to the growth of the communities. We used our highly efficient diesel engine technology to get into the diesel genset business, providing much-needed power to the many communities whose progress was hampered by erratic electricity supply.

Driving Positive Change underlies everything we do. Whether it is Mahindra Finance providing loans to the un-bankable to fund their dreams, or Mahindra Lifespaces (our real estate business) developing green buildings that ensure lower carbon footprint, or the pioneering work that we have done in electric vehicles, driving positive change is “Rise” in action. Our ventures into renewables and efficient water irrigation systems are also in the same line of creating solutions for a better tomorrow.

We remain strongly rooted in our core values of professionalism, good corporate citizenship, a customer-first approach, focus on quality, and dignity of the individual. These core values guide our decisions and actions and demarcate the boundaries beyond which we will not venture.

The Mahindra Code of Conduct: “Doing things is important—doing them the right way is even more important.”

Mahindra has had a formal code of conduct since 2003, even when it was not recommended by any industry body. The same code applies to everyone across the hierarchy and geographies. We have updated it for the recent statutory changes and brought into focus elements of the code which are important in the current economic and regulatory scenario. We demystified the code and made it employee-friendly by using elaborative content, FAQs, and case-based learnings. Measures for creating awareness range from conducting ethical dilemma workshops for closed groups to local-language films for factory workers. We leverage technology for greater reach, including a soon-to-be-launched computer-based training module. To effectively administer the code, we have a third-party whistleblower mechanism that people can trust.

Mahindra has had a formal code of conduct since 2003, even when it was not recommended by any industry body.

Doing business with a conscience, coupled with our “Rise” philosophy, is not just “feel good stuff.” It creates value for our stakeholders, pays business dividends, inspires our employees, builds trusts with our investors, generates goodwill with our community, and collectively results in high brand affiliation. Our people feel a sense of pride in working for Mahindra. It makes us a preferred workplace for millennials.

[This article was originally published in the Ethisphere Magazine, 2018 Special Edition.]