ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. Globally, investors are increasingly asking for enterprises to measure these factors; this is used as part of their investment analysis/review to flag off any material risks, as well as highlight potential developmental opportunities.

Global phenomenon such as climate change, Covid-19 have pushed the policy makers and businesses to think of shaping a better future. The very survival of not just businesses, but humanity is at stake with some of these challenges.

Much of the societal miseries have been brought along by our own short-term ‘game the profits’ thinking which has led to destruction of natural resources and to harm the societal value system in general.

Businesses are expected to ‘build a moat’ to outlast competition and to achieve higher sustainable returns in the long-term.

How do environmental effects like consumption of natural resources, waste discharge and carbon emissions impact? How does one leverage social factors such as ties with local communities, diversity and inclusion, and building a positive reputation with stakeholders? How does one look at building-up quality of governance, including board effectiveness protocols, approach to senior executive compensation and appropriate reliance on independent directors?

After all, the benefits of these would not be limited to engaged investor interest, efficient use of all types of resources, lower cost of business operations, higher and proactive risk management initiatives, higher productivity and happiness index of human capital.

Is there a prescribed formula to achieve these?

Is there a way that Corporate India can be trained for it?

The book “Outlast: How ESG Can Benefit Your Business” is a lucid commentary that gives a broad outlook of the current Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) landscape and the issues that businesses (continue to) face. After all, it speaks of how to use ESG to enable this positive outcome.

The authors Dr Mukund Rajan and Dr (Col.) Rajeev Kumar have articulated well the concept of ESG, especially with the context of Indian ecosystem. Their decades of experience in working for some of India's largest organisations reflects in their wider thinking around the impact of ESG. They have also used their collective experience of working for their Tata group to analyse research for this book. Apart from this, they have studied other businesses/brands such as Marico, Unilever, Olam, Foxconn, Page Industries, Apollo Tyres, Nike, Ranbaxy, Assam tea industry, Enron, Arthur Andersen, Volkswagen, Coal India, Cognizant, and many more. The case studies and examples that this book carries makes the subtle and cannot-miss “profit with a purpose” objective that ESG-led firms adopt. The book has provided examples for almost every sub-topic it has covered, making it suitable even as a “book for ESG-dummies”.

Ease of topic

The book is a simple read, with easy explanations. Unlike other books on ESG, this one does not browbeat the reader. This book is neither a technical manual nor a deep-subject-matter-book that discusses ESG framework techniques or methodologies. Whether you are a novice or student or simply blue-skying about ESG or an existing practitioner, this book brings in perspective of the Indian ESG context — of the past, and present. It lays across the benefits of adopting ESG as organisational DNA, for a resilient future in the disruptive ecosystem and the VUCA world that we live in.

For this book is like a friendly conversation covering — corporates, communities, commerce, climate, carbon, concerns, corporate-governance, culture, collaborative-solutions, communication, compliance, controversies, corruption, country, codes & covenants, and more — all converging into ESG.

The authors wrote this book with absolute Indian context. I feel like saying “At last, Outlast”!

(The author is a corporate advisor and independent markets commentator)

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