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Business leaders in India discuss embedding social impact thinking into business strategy

Palladium recently organised a conference in Mumbai, India, on how businesses can grow profits while advancing economic and social conditions in the communities where they operate. Speakers included Dr Kaplan, a business management guru and cofounder of Palladium’s strategy execution practice, as well as senior government and business leaders from India and beyond.

Businesses in India need to grow in ways that are sustainable, said Dr Kaplan, and to align with solving some of India’s societal problems, including the poverty that persists despite India’s impressive growth. Indian businesses have a window of opportunity to show that private sector growth can go hand in hand with reducing inequalities and supporting marginalised segments of society. If they miss this opportunity, populist politicians may seize the opportunity to change public policies in ways that will neither be good for business nor for growth.

Mukund Rajan, Chairman at the Tata Global Sustainability Council, shared examples of how Tata companies are investing in sustainable businesses and operating amongst communities in a responsible manner. This, he said, ultimately leads to a higher sense of purpose for employees, and in turn to stronger brand performance.

One panel discussion explored new ways of financing Positive Impact programmes, including through development impact bonds, such as the recently launched Utkrisht Bond, which will improve maternal and newborn health in Rajasthan, India. Another panel explored what delivering Positive Impact means in the Indian context.

The conference concluded with the launch of the Palladium community of practice in India. Palladium has been working in India for over 30 years. It has helped to improve health policies and district-level planning, to implement private-public partnership models and to strengthen social marketing and social franchising initiatives.

Palladium is now expanding its work in the country in order to deliver Positive Impact in a greater number of sectors and at a greater scale. Palladium’s strategic partner at the conference was AP Globale, a group of companies headquartered in Mumbai and focused on embedding social impact thinking into business strategy.