+ Green Leadership for Sustainability in Organisations – A Success Story of KBL Dewas - CII Blog

Sustainable Development Goals

United Nations, with a purpose to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure well-being of human race by the year 2030, had adapted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals. These 17 SDGs are integrated and correlated to an extent that action in one area tends to influence the outcome of other goals. SDGs emphasize that development should balance and contribute equally to the economic, social and environmental sustainability. Nearly the entire world is committed to achieve SDGs and in turn, look up to various stakeholders of their society, including industries, to help achieve the same.

Although many SDGs directly and indirectly focus on sustainability, Goal 9 specifies the role of the industry, innovation and infrastructure in achieving SDGs. This goal assumes that technological progress is the key to finding lasting solutions to both economic and environmental challenges by providing new job opportunities on one hand, and by promoting energy efficiency and natural resource conservation etc on the other.

Industries and Sustainability Goals

Responding to the global environmental concern, organisations have already started measuring their success not just in terms of achieved ‘financial’ goals, but also in terms of achieved ‘sustainability’ goals. They are aware that in long run, sustainability initiatives do good not only to the environment or to the company’s image, but also significantly contribute to the cumulative cost reduction in an organization.

However, achieving sustainability is an arduous target unless it is integrated strategically at all the levels of organizational functioning. Ingraining sustainability in the organizational culture equips the employees with the lens to interpret the organizational rules and regulations with sustainability perspective and also to act more pro-environmentally in their day-to-day functioning.

Organisational Sustainability and GreenCo Certification

In India, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (CII-Godrej GBC) developed a ‘Green Company Rating system’ (GreenCo rating) for the companies intending to achieve sustainability goals. It is a holistic framework, the first of its kind in the world, that evaluates company on the environmental friendliness of their activities using a life-cycle approach. The assessment is done on 10 parameters, namely; World Class Energy Efficiency; Water Neutral/Positive status; Green House Gas mitigation; Zero Waste; Material Conservation & Recycling; Greener Supply Chains; Renewable Energy; Product Stewardship; Toxicity reduction; Life Cycle Assessment, Green Infrastructure & Ecology with a total weightage of 1000 points.

Sustainable Organisation: Kirloskar Brothers Limited

Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) is one such green Indian organisation, was established in 1888 and incorporated in 1920. It is a flagship company of $ 2.1 billion which offers complete fluid management solutions for large infrastructure projects in the areas of water supply, power plants, irrigation, oil & gas, marine and defence. It is an ISO: 9001 & ISO: 50001, OHSAS: 18001 and ISO: 14001 Environment Standard certified company which has one of its manufacturing units in Dewas situated in the Madhya Pradesh state of India. KBL-Dewas unit manufactures a range of energy efficient agricultural, domestic and industrial pumps.

A detailed case study of KBL-Dewas Unit, tracked the journey of this corporate house turning green not just in policy, but also in practice, as displayed by their employee’s pro-environmental behavior through visionary green leadership. Illustrating their core values of “Commitment towards Environment”, this manufacturing plant has undertaken various initiatives related to energy efficiency, green house mitigation, water conservation, waste management etc.

The plant has Quality Management System, Environment Management System, Occupational Health and safety, Energy Management System in place and also the coveted Green Co (Gold) certification as well. The company has demonstrated its will to attain sustainability goals by transgressing beyond legal and mandatory boundaries towards more philanthropic and challenging territories. Aiming higher, the plant is now targeting most ambitious Green co. platinum certification.

Incorporating Changes for GreenCo Certification

In order to achieve desired number of points mandatory for green co certification, the KBL Dewas plant incorporated changes at different levels.

1. Operations Level: New Machinery and Equipment that were environmental friendly and safe, were installed and the manpower was trained to operate the same. Green and lean processes were integrated to reduce wastage and conserve energy.

2. Technology Level: Upgradation of IT & procurement of new Software was done. This helped to integrate information that can be displayed throughout the departments. Displays that gives actual data of input material, raw material and production on one platform, were installed.

3. Structural/Task Level: To undertake various sustainability and conservation-related activities, a cross-functional team (CFT) was constituted. Leadership was developed at all the levels so that problems can be solved and decisions can be taken at the earliest.

Human Resource and Green Initiatives

The investment in new machines, technology and software’s does not guarantee success, especially in achieving green goals. Ultimately it is the employees, who work with changed processes and achieve desired outcomes. It is only when the employees are committed that the capital investment will result in achievement of sustainability goals. This is attained through strong HR value chain. The organization values its human resource and has made extra efforts to suitably reward and motivate, train and develop its human resources to ensure employee engagement. Thus, employees were involved in the entire process of achieving sustainability goals.

By complimenting changes with the appropriate HR practices, the organization succeeded in getting Green Co Silver and Gold certifications. On the basis of the data collected with the help of structured questionnaire from the members of cross functional teams of KBL Dewas, certain ‘facilitating’ and ‘limiting’ factors were identified. These factors can contribute to the success or failure of the organizations in achieving green co certifications.

Facilitating Factors to Green Initiatives; The respondents raked eleven facilitating factors and on the basis of their response top three factors that contributed to the success in achieving Green co certification were identified as;

  1. Green Leadership: The top management of Kirloskar Brothers not only emphasized the importance of sustainability goals in principle through written commitment spelled in company’s vision, mission and policies, but also effectively implemented the same in practice and also shared it annually in public domain as sustainability reports. The organization developed green organizational climate which is perceived by its employees and thus facilitates their green behavior.
  2. Employee engagement: The organization has suitable HR policies for talent retention. As a result, there had been no recruitment at associate levels since 1996 and employee retention rate is very high at managerial level and higher ranks. The employees get ample opportunity to develop their expertise in their functional area as well as in the area of their interest. Training in different sustainability issues is done periodically to equip employees with the requisite skills and knowledge. The employees, as individuals and teams, are encouraged to innovate. Their creative contributions in achieving sustainability goals are acknowledged, appreciated and suitably rewarded at different forums. The organization has also constituted many cross-functional teams at different levels. Each team has a team leaders and is also guided by the project heads as well. Thus, leadership is developed at different organizational levels. This prepares the employees for future organizational responsibilities.
  3. 3600 communication channel to express ideas, seek information, solve problem and innovate: There are channels and platforms where employees and teams can share their ideas, showcase their innovations and learn from the success of others. Different competitions and events, both within and between plant, are organized to motivate and develop employees. ‘Encon’ is one such interplant competitions. It is an energy conservation competition in which all the KBL plants participate. The auditing of the entries is done by the external auditor, who declare the winners.  Besides integrated sustainability reporting, there is ‘Sanskaran’, a quarterly newsletter, which shares information on various issues including sustainability.

Hindering Factors to Green Initiatives

While working for the Green Co certification certain factors can act as hurdles in achieving desired results. The three most important limiting factors are;

  1. Lack of coordination among cross functional teams: The purpose of cross functional team is achieved only when it is well coordinated. The leader of each team has to ensure that the problem is resolved with least friction. Role of senior leaders becomes important in overseeing the smooth functioning of teams.
  2. Lack of in-house expertise: Some of the technical and managerial problems needs to be resolved instantly to achieve the time bound targets. In critical situations organization can rely on its own resources. Thus, it is essential that employees are trained and developed in the areas which is required in various green initiatives.
  3. Lack of Clarity of goals; A well-defined goal is the key to success. As the green co certification has clearly defined parameters to evaluate the company’s environmental performance, there is a strong need for the goals to be broken in sub goals before allocation to the cross functional teams. In case of over-lapping of sub-goals, there should be clarity among the concerned teams about their role and extent of their contribution to the sub-goal. Time invested in defining and allocating goals will minimize the possibility of future conflicts and delay.

Thus, it is only with ‘Organisational Will’ the industries can achieve sustainability goalsand Green co certification provides the framework for the same. From the case study of KBL Dewas plant, it is evident that human resource of the organizations play an important role in achieving environmental goals. Structural changes in technology or process are important but more important is to develop human resource which is environmentally sensitive and committed to using the changed technology and processes to achieve green goals. Green leaders can enthuse sustainability mindset among their employees to reap the benefits accruing out of green organization. Other organisations can draw some insight from the success story of KBL-Dewas if they intend to walk the greener path in pursuance of sustainable goals.

This article is based on a Case Study titled ‘Creating Green Organisation: A Case of Kirloskar Brothers Limited, Dewas,. The project was fully funded by Indian institute of Forest Management, Bhopal (MP).

The article was contributed by:

Vandita Singh Banerjee

Faculty in Human Resource Management

Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal (MP)