The prospect of climate change demands urgent action, as failure to act will result in significant costs, particularly impacting the most vulnerable communities. It is crucial for us all to understand that the well-being of both humanity and the planet are intricately connected. By investing in people, we enhance their ability to cope with the effects of climate change, empower them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and expedite the transition to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.
India's ambitious aim to achieve net zero by 2070 reflects its commitment to sustainable development. Notably, this goal is catalysing a profound shift within the corporate landscape. With the government's growing emphasis on investing in indigenous technologies and manufacturing skills to address climate and resource conservation, the nation is experiencing rapid growth, resulting in a significant change in hiring practices with a strong emphasis on recruiting professionals in green jobs.
To delve deeper into this topic, People Matters interviewed Mr Manish Patil, Director (HR) at ONGC Ltd, to discuss the alignment of leadership with sustainability for climate and resource conservation. During our exclusive conversation, he offered valuable insights, shared various tips, and discussed relevant policies to help leaders foster a culture of progress and sustainability within their organisations.
Excerpts from the interview:
With the government's focus on investing in indigenous technologies and manufacturing skills for climate and resource conservation, how do you anticipate this will impact leadership practices within organisations?
Government of India’s increasing focus on investing in indigenous technologies and manufacturing skills for climate and resource conservation is already showing significant impact on leadership practices across the companies, organisations and all kinds of institutions across the country.
1. Emphasis on sustainability
With a greater emphasis on climate and resource conservation, leaders are increasingly integrating sustainability principles into their decision-making processes. They are increasingly aligning their strategies and practices with broader environmental goals, ensuring that their organisations contribute more towards a sustainable future.
In ONGC, for example, we are deeply analysing the environmental impact from our Oil and Gas operations and supply chain management. Our awareness and actions have led to a significant reduction in our carbon intensity per barrel of oil production, decreasing by over 12% in the past four years.
2. Innovation and adaptability
Indigenous technologies and manufacturing skills often prioritise innovation and adaptability to address unique challenges. Therefore, the current leaders need to foster a culture of innovation within their organisations and encourage employees to think creatively and find new solutions. They may need to be more open to experimentation, collaboration, and learning from diverse perspectives to drive indigenous-inspired innovation.
3. Ethical and social responsibility
Indigenous technologies and manufacturing skills are often deeply connected to cultural values, ethical considerations, and social responsibility. Leaders will need to navigate complex social issues, such as community engagement, indigenous rights, and fair trade practices. They will have to consider the broader social impact of their decisions and ensure that their operations respect and benefits to local communities and indigenous populations; ONGC’s many CSR programs are aligned with this new reality.
4. Talent development and diversity
Indigenous technologies and manufacturing skills can bring attention to the value of diverse perspectives and local knowledge. Leaders will need to focus on talent development initiatives that recognise and nurture indigenous skills, and also fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations. This may involve creating training programs, apprenticeships, and mentorship opportunities that support the development of indigenous talent and a diverse workforce.
5. Collaboration and partnerships
Leaders will be encouraged to form collaborations and partnerships with indigenous communities, research institutions, peer businesses and government agencies to promote the development and adoption of indigenous technologies. This will require strong relationship-building skills and the ability to work effectively across sectors.
6. Inclusion and diversity
To effectively lead the climate war, business managers need to think beyond the traditional reduce, reuse and recycle approach. Leaders will need to embrace diversity and inclusivity by incorporating indigenous perspectives and engaging with indigenous communities. This will require cultural sensitivity and the ability to create an inclusive work environment.
Are there any specific development programs or initiatives within ONGC that focus on nurturing managers who can drive sustainability efforts and guide professionals in green jobs?
The vision statement of ONGC is ‘To be global leader in integrated energy business through sustainable growth, knowledge excellence and exemplary governance practices.’ In line with this, ONGC has undertaken several initiatives and programs to promote sustainability and green practices enabled by a pipeline of competent managers. Some of them are:
1. Green Energy Cells
ONGC has long back established a Carbon Management & Sustainability Group (CM&SG) headed by a senior executive who directly reports to a functional director. This group responsibly brings out the carbon foot print of the organisation, recommends areas of improvement and publishes Annual Integrated Report which is in compliance with the guidelines outlined by the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IICR) Integrated Report framework. ONGC is among the very few companies in the country which publishes such integrated report.
2. ONGC Energy Centre Trust (OECT)
ONGC has long back established ONGC Energy Centre Trust (OECT) which undertakes R&D in niche sustainability areas. We are also working on several fronts to enhance the greening of our value-chain. We are targeting at least 10GW Renewables Energy (RE) by 2030. We are also pursuing projects in new energy areas like Geothermal, Green Hydrogen, Green Ammonia, Carbon Capture & Sequestration etc. which will help us to achieve carbon neutrality.
3. Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
ONGC has implemented IS0-14001 compliant Environmental Management System to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and promote sustainable practices across its operations. This system includes regular monitoring, audits, and reporting mechanisms to track environmental performance and drive continuous improvement.
4. Training and Development Programs
ONGC Academy centrally as well as its work centres separately undertake various training and development programs focused on climate change, sustainability and green practices. These programs aim to enhance the knowledge and skills of managers and professionals in areas such as renewable energy, environmental management, energy efficiency, and green technologies. The goal is to nurture leaders who can drive sustainability efforts and green energy mission within the organisation and guide professionals in green jobs.
5. Empowering employees
Employees are encouraged to engage in activities that preserve environmental elements and help create awareness. Employees are empowered to be productive through high end technology while also reducing waste, saving money, and staying competitive. The organisation promotes awareness among employees, families and general community on climate change and resource conservation through observation of events such as the World Environment Day, PCRAs fuel conservation month – Saksham.
What qualities and competencies should leaders possess to effectively mentor professionals in green jobs and align their development with the government's vision for climate and resource conservation?
The first and foremost requirements for today’s leaders is awareness about the ongoing climate change and its adverse impacts on society and humanity and then having a deep passion to continuously ensure that the impact of whatever we have been doing has nil or reduced impact on the environment. These two qualities would help the leaders drive to inculcate awareness down the line.
Leaders should also have a solid understanding of green technologies, sustainable practices, and the government's vision for climate and resource conservation. They should stay informed about the latest developments, trends, and regulations in the field of sustainability.
They need to have a clear vision of how their organisation can contribute to the government's vision for climate and resource conservation and should be able to develop a strategic roadmap that aligns with the government's goals and guides professionals' development in green jobs. Strategic thinking helps leaders identify opportunities, set targets, and develop innovative approaches to address environmental challenges.
Effective leaders in the context of green jobs mentoring should be skilled communicators who can convey the importance of sustainability and inspire professionals to contribute to the government's vision. They should be able to clearly articulate goals, expectations, and provide feedback to professionals.
Additionally, leaders should foster collaboration, creating a supportive and inclusive environment where professionals can learn from each other and work collectively towards sustainability goals.
Some of the qualities of green leaders include:
- Visionary – Navigation in unseen roads
- Openness to new ideas
Some of the competencies of green leaders include:
- Corporate Manoeuvrability
- Strategic planning - scenario planning and scenario thinking
- Change management
How does ONGC ensure that leadership practices are aligned with the organisation's sustainability goals and that leaders actively contribute to the adoption of indigenous technologies and resource conservation?
ONGC has implemented several measures to ensure that leadership practices are aligned with the organisation's sustainability goals and that leaders actively contribute to the adoption of indigenous technologies and resource conservation. Recently ONGC has announced its ambition of achieving Net Zero in Scope-I & II by 2038. In our recently held Strategy Meet, we deliberated threadbare about our strategies and actions to achieving this ambitious goal.
We have a Sustainable Development Policy that provides a guiding framework for aligning leadership practices with sustainability goals. The policy emphasises environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability. It sets the direction for integrating sustainability into ONGC's strategies, operations, and decision-making processes.
ONGC conducts leadership development programs (like young leadership programs and Senior Management Development program in collaboration with IIM) that incorporate sustainability principles and promote the adoption of indigenous technologies and resource conservation. These programs enhance overall understanding of the necessary knowledge and skills of leadership role for sustainability space too.
As mentioned earlier, we publish sustainability reports annually, now it is Integrated Annual Report that provides transparency on its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. These reports outline the organization's progress towards sustainability goals and highlight the sustainable practices that signify how ONGC fosters a culture of responsibility and ensures their active involvement.
ONGC promotes the integration of sustainability considerations into decision-making processes across various levels of leadership. Leaders are encouraged to incorporate sustainability aspects, such as environmental impact assessments, lifecycle analysis, and stakeholder engagement, when making strategic and operational decisions.
How can HR professionals collaborate with leaders to support the mentoring and development of professionals in green jobs, ensuring the organisation's sustainable growth and contribution to India's vision?
HR professionals play a crucial role in collaborating with leaders to support the mentoring and development of professionals in green jobs while ensuring the organisation's sustainable growth and contribution to India's vision. This includes integrating sustainability considerations into recruitment, performance management, talent development, and succession planning processes.
HR professionals always work closely with senior leaders to identify the specific skills, competencies, and behaviours required for green jobs, new projects and ensure that these factors are considered throughout the employee lifecycle. In ONGC, we are taking necessary proactive action to augment capacity building in the new upcoming areas of green business.
We have also plan in place to collaborate with academia to design and implement talent development programs specifically tailored for professionals in green jobs. Our HR professionals help in identifying the knowledge gaps, learning needs, and career development opportunities in the green sector and design programs accordingly.
We have portals (Gyanodyan) for knowledge sharing within the organisation. This platform enables professionals to exchange ideas, best practices, and lessons learned. HR professionals can work with leaders to establish forums, internal networks, or online communities where employees can collaborate, share their experiences, and learn from each other's expertise in sustainability.
By collaborating closely with senior leadership, ONGC HR professionals always ensure that the organisation's HR practices and initiatives are aligned with the sustainability goals of the corporation.