Companies with a vision & purpose have fared better in pandemic: KPMG India Chairman Arun Kumar

The Economic Times
26-Oct-2020

Synopsis
“A crisis is a time when a company’s sense of purpose and values are tested. At such a time, employees and customers look for authentic leadership that is empathetic, transparent, honest and committed to a higher purpose,” Kumar told ET.

Mumbai: The Covid-19 pandemic should also be viewed as an opportunity not just for Indian companies but even for India as a country, said KPMG India chairman Arun Kumar.

“This is a time to look at fundamentally new ways to enhance healthcare — both in terms of universalising access to quality healthcare, as well as creating digitally enabled early warning systems to reduce community vulnerability to epidemics — education, job creation — and particularly income security for the vulnerable,” he said.

As most Indian companies suffer the consequences of Covid pandemic, some of them have still managed to tackle the crisis better and the main differentiation between the performers and the laggards is what many corporate strategy gurus have been talking about for a long time now — vision and purpose, said Kumar.

“A crisis is a time when a company’s sense of purpose and values are tested. At such a time, employees and customers look for authentic leadership that is empathetic, transparent, honest and committed to a higher purpose,” Kumar told ET.

Kumar has also served as assistant secretary of commerce for global markets and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) in the administration of former US President Barack Obama. He said agility and ability to transform will be key factors for successful companies in the future. “There is an increased consciousness that companies which are purpose-led, agile, innovative in quickly transforming their thinking and approaches, and work with a balanced agenda of creating growth and earning trust, will distinguish themselves in the longer term,” he said.

Multiple experts have earlier opined that most of the young employees want their work to be more than just a means to earn money. “In a workforce which is largely going to be dominated by millennials, being driven by purpose becomes even more relevant to attract and retain talent,” Kumar said.

Many experts are now talking about timelines for recovery, both for countries and companies.

While many differ on the timeline, others caution that the complete recovery may not happen till 2023. Kevin Sneader, global managing partner, McKinsey & Co, had earlier told ET that the global economy will only go back to where it was before Covid-19 pandemic by Q3 of 2023.

KPMG, which is one of the largest professional services firms, deals with some of the top corporates. KPMG studies have found that companies that focused more on “ESG Agenda” (environmental, social and corporate governance) have fared better than others.

 “Aspects such as impact and contributions to its communities will occupy an increasingly important place in an organisation’s strategic agenda. I also believe that the greater sensitivities to the environment that have been wrought by this pandemic will also leave beneficial legacies in its wake, particularly in terms of enhanced sensitivities by organisations and communities to existential issues like climate change. I’m also very glad to see that the government of India has recently fostered renewed focus on business responsibility and sustainability for corporations,” said Kumar.

(Source)