Preparedness the key to future resilience, say Indian executives

11 February 2021 4 min. read
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Nearly 80% of C-suite executives in India are confident that their organisation can navigate a crisis, compared to around a third globally. A new Deloitte report has mapped CxO sentiment as we step into a year of anticipated recovery.

Deloitte surveyed more than 2,000 CxOs across more than 20 countries, all from organisations with over $500 million in revenues. The comprehensive survey covered questions of pandemic response, recovery and plans for the future.

In India, CxOs appear to be prepared for the worst. For 70%, the pandemic is neither a one-off occurrence nor a rare event, but just one of many global disruptions that have and will occur. This is marginally higher than the global figure, which explains why Indian businesses are at par with the world when it comes to crisis preparedness.

Business readiness for the 2020 pandemic

Most organisations that have steadied ship since last year were already building business resilience before 2020. In India, just over 60% went into 2020 amid revenue diversification efforts – compared to nearly 70% globally. Two-thirds of Indian businesses were using advanced tech to create new business models, roughly equal to their global counterparts.

Other efforts include upskilling programmes and supply chain diversification – all of which are either already in the works before 2020 or are planned for the near future. Per Deloitte’s analysis, the biggest transformation gripping the business environment in India and around the world is a focus on organisational flexibility.

Over 70% of businesses were building workforce versatility when the pandemic hit – “enabling the organisation to easily redeploy workers to different roles depending on need and/or worker interests” according to the report. Nearly the same amount were offering their employees flexible working options and implementing remote working systems.

Top priorities for the future workforceIn short, organisations were working towards “flexibility and adaptability” – ranked by 54% of respondents as the most critical workforce trait required in the future. According to Deloitte's authors, if these principles were not high on the corporate agenda before the pandemic, they certainly are now. 

“The year 2020 has propelled organisations in India, and the rest of the world, to think creatively given the disruptive environment. Our research reveals that resilient organisations; with flexible, adaptable, long-term, innovative mindsets that cultivate resilient cultures, are better positioned to overcome disruptions and help usher in a 'better normal' post pandemic,” said Deloitte India partner Joydeep Datta Gupta.

Navigating the future

Working towards this ideal, CXOs are focused on building a workforce that is tech savvy, value-driven, proficient in its tasks, critical, creative, courageous, empathetic, curious and inclusive. According to the survey, Indian CXOs rate their business’ inclusivity and regard for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors far higher than their global counterparts.

Top societal issues affecting the future of business

As it happens, these values are crucial tools for tackling the business challenges of tomorrow. Indeed, climate change and environmental sustainability is ranked as the top societal issue most critical for businesses to address over the next decade – placed in the top three by nearly half of Deloitte’s global respondents.

"Our Resilience Report reveals that Indian business leaders believe climate change is a crisis of greater magnitude than Covid-19 – and their anxieties exceed those of their global peers," said Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen.

"That does not surprise me because the India I see today, the hills, the air, the physical environment, is vastly different from the India of my childhood. And that’s the deleterious impact of climate abuse. Indian executives must meet this moment with renewed commitment to clean energy, including an embrace of ESG standards. I believe this is the biggest issue of our generation." 

Reflecting the events of last year, over 40% also believe that healthcare and disease prevention will be top of the agenda, while the growing skills gap; income inequality; systemic inequality such as racism and sexism; and supply chain issues are all notable hurdles en route to 2030.

Less cited but equally pressing issues include a resource crunch, food insecurity, immigration issues and sexual harassment. For the authors, navigating this minefield over the next decade will boil down to preparedness – a “proven lesson” that has emerged out of the pandemic-induced chaos.