Sustainability at a Global Conglomerate: Key Insights from The Aditya Birla Group

Written by Malvi Goyal

Aditya Birla Group, a global conglomerate, offers profound insights into taking a truly holistic, global approach for incorporating sustainability in the business operations. Active in 14 industry sectors including textiles, metals, real estate and entertainment, the Aditya Birla Group offers a robust framework of  how global conglomerates are defining and deploying their sustainability roadmaps.

In a discussion on leadership commitment, fostering an inclusive culture, addressing reporting challenges, empowering the workforce, and innovating green products, Aniket Jalgaonkar, Climate Change Lead for APAC, AXA Climate, spoke to Deeksha Vats, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Aditya Birla Group to learn how exactly the company champions these initiatives.

1- Leadership and organisational commitment to sustainability

Firstly, the leadership team at the Aditya Birla Group not only vocalises support for sustainability, but actively incorporates it into their business strategy. An example of their commitment is the setting of ambitious targets such as achieving net zero carbon emissions from the business by 2050.

This goal demonstrates leadership’s dedication to steering the organisation towards a sustainable future, highlighting the importance they place on long-term environmental stewardship over short-term gains. Aditya Birla Group’s Chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, previously said: “If living by our values means, perhaps growing at a pace slower than we would otherwise have liked, so be it. For us, leadership lies at the heart of knowing what we stand for.”

To achieve this vision, they need to bring the entire organisation – almost 200,000 people worldwide – on the journey with them.

2- Creating a globally inclusive culture of sustainability

In order to build an inclusive, sustainability-first culture, the business engages employees across diverse geographies and sectors with a shared understanding of what sustainability means to the Aditya Birla Group. By integrating sustainability metrics into the KPIs of management, the company ensures that these values permeate through every layer of the organisation.

In order to make everyone feel included, the businesses invite employees to sustainability workshops and forums, fostering a shared commitment and enabling workers to contribute ideas towards more sustainable practices.

Given the company’s global approach to sustainability, it is important that it measures accurately across geographies.

3- Rising to the challenge of sustainability reporting

Faced with the complexity of sustainability reporting, the Aditya Birla Group utilises digital technologies to streamline data management and reporting processes. A key initiative is the creation of a centralised repository for sustainability-related data, which simplifies the process of compiling and analysing information across their various operations.

This approach not only makes reporting much easier, but it also enhances transparency with stakeholders, demonstrating the company’s commitment to accountable and transparent sustainability practices.

Taking a data-led approach also enables the group to identify where it needs to retrain or upskill its employees.

4- Empowering and upskilling the workforce

The group’s dedication to workforce empowerment and training is showcased through its comprehensive training programmes focused on sustainability. One step they’ve taken is the development of e-learning modules – powered by AXA Climate School – which are tailored to different aspects of sustainability.

These modules are designed to equip employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to integrate sustainability into their daily operations, illustrating the group’s investment in creating a workforce that is not only aware, but also capable, of driving sustainable change through their own actions.

Beyond the employees, the corporation must also ensure sustainability sits at the core of its products.

5- Product sustainability and development of green products

The Aditya Birla Group takes a strategic approach to defining and developing sustainable products. For instance, in their textiles sector, they have introduced eco-friendly fibres that not only meet the growing consumer demand for sustainable products, but also set new industry standards for environmental responsibility.

This effort is underscored by the Group’s focus on lifecycle analysis to ensure their products are sustainable from production to disposal, showcasing a holistic view of product sustainability, and aligning closely with recognised ESG charters.

A holistic approach

The Aditya Birla Group’s sustainability journey demonstrates the importance of taking a holistic approach that encompasses strong leadership, an inclusive culture, strategic reporting, an empowered workforce, and innovation in product development.

Through these initiatives, the company not only advances its sustainability agenda, but also sets a benchmark for other global businesses aiming to navigate the complexities of sustainable business practices.

If you want to learn more about how AXA Climate School can help your organisation on its path to becoming more sustainable, please get in touch.