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At Mahindra, ‘Rise’ refers to our purpose to enable and empower all our stakeholders – our partners, employees, communities, customers and more – by driving positive change in their lives. The belief is that only when our entire ecosystem ‘Rises’, so do we. ‘Rise’ for Mahindra is a commitment to making the world better through all that the Group does — whether it is our initiatives for carbon neutrality, our commitments to the community, our customer-first products and services, or our focus on powering future-facing businesses such as e-mobility and clean energy.
The spirit of Rise has been a part of Mahindra’s DNA from the very beginning, when JC and KC Mahindra set up a steel trading venture in 1945 to meet the rising industrial demands of a soon-to-be independent Indian nation.
A couple of years later, the Mahindras met Barney Roos – the co-inventor of the rugged “general purpose vehicle” the Willys Jeep – and had a flash of inspiration: “Wouldn’t this iconic vehicle, invincible and unconquered in World War II, be ideal for India’s terrain and its kutcha rural roads?” The answer to that question 70 years ago laid the foundation of the company as the first utility vehicle for India’s transportation needs.
The germ of the idea of Rise – as a unifying purpose or a rallying call – came from Scott Goodson, the founder of a New York-based advertising agency who visited India in 2007. The visit was in preparation for Mahindra’s launch of pick-up trucks in the USA, and Goodson was looking for a unifying strand of messaging for the Group, an identifier to define Mahindra.
Goodson found that employees of the diverse Mahindra companies drew their inspiration differently, informed by their business lines. But he did detect something deeper. Almost everyone in the Group spoke of a sense of higher purpose. Goodson’s early findings fired the imaginations of Mahindra’s top management and its then Vice-Chairman Anand Mahindra. The idea was examined in depth over the next two years, and the leaders agreed to articulate this latent sense of purpose, which would go on to transform the Mahindra Group.
Mahindra employees had expressed a desire to shape their own destinies, solve problems and contribute to the world around them. Across Group companies, employees saw success as something achieved by ingenuity and cutting through limitations. Clearly, the insight was an untapped gold mine of brand identity, and that is how Rise was born.
Ruzbeh Irani, President — Group Human Resources & Communications at Mahindra Group, says, “What sets Rise apart is that it was not the typical inside-out brand promise that advertising does. The idea in culture is that people want to shape their own destiny and Mahindra says we will enable you to do that.”
And how do we do ensure Rise? Mahindra enables Rise through its actions on three pillars — accepting no limits, alternative thinking and driving positive change. Here are some instances.
During the pandemic, the Mahindra Group refused to accept the limitations of the lockdown and innovated proactively to help the community stay safe. These initiatives include setting up oxygen plants in Maharashtra and Uttarakhand, supplying oxygen concentrators across several states, delivering oxygen to hospitals and communities through the 'Oxygen on Wheels' programme, conducting vaccination drives for employees, partners and associates, and providing support for testing, isolation and quarantine facilities. This is the spirit of accepting no limits.
On the pillar of Alternative Thinking, the Group has been aligning business operations to rapidly-changing societal and environmental demands and finding new economic opportunities therein. Today, it has a presence in electric vehicles, green buildings, micro-irrigation, solar power, and smart IT — a ‘green’ portfolio that adds more than $600 million to the Group’s topline revenues.
The spirit of Rise is also evident in our efforts to drive positive change through our CSR programmes and business operations. For example, Hariyali, the Group’s tree plantation programme, has planted over 19 million trees and led to the creation of new livelihoods for villagers and tribals and an enhancement of local biodiversity ecosystems.
On the business front, Mahindra Agri’s compelling vision is to 'Deliver Prosperity to Farmers to Help Them Rise.' The company does this through technology-enabled products, services and other initiatives that deliver real-world solutions to millions of farmers, helping them grow their incomes over time.
Similarly, through Mahindra Finance, which is India’s largest rural non-banking financial institution, we provide much-needed financial services to people in rural areas that open up opportunities for the future. The company has created thousands of new jobs and has served over four million customers in rural India.
The building blocks
Rajeev Dubey, former Group President (HR & Aftermarket) at Mahindra Group, says, “Rise is who we are, what we do, why we do it and how we do it. It is an external brand and an internal brand. It creates passion among our own employees and the people we interact with.” The implementation of the metrics on Rise was far from easy, but over a period, the terminology has evolved, and today, this is part of the business parlance at Mahindra.
Rise and the inherent sense of purpose have made the Mahindra Group a leader in ESG for a world where Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) has become a defining virtue for companies and is linked to the value of equity and shareholder returns. Over time, the valuation of Group companies has gone up significantly, with the two biggest companies, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tech Mahindra, together accounting for more than INR 2 lakh crore in market capitalisation.
Rise often has a bigger impact on people at a personal level. As the organisation inspires people to stretch their limits with work, it also helps them to grow. The primacy of the Rise leadership traits as career growth metrics is firmly established at Mahindra. For instance, a woman executive in the farm sector who decided to step out of her comfort zone and take on a role as a field officer in Haryana’s farmlands. There are employees who say that they work for Mahindra Group because of its Rise philosophy. The deeper conviction of purpose has helped attract talent to the Group, a draw beyond compensation.
It also attracts customers who resonate with the Group’s philosophy. Our customers are at the heart of Rise. All that we do empowers them to overcome challenges, exploit their ingenuity and experience a better life.
As Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, sums it up, “Rise is today the common philosophy that unites everyone at Mahindra Group. It mandates us to challenge conventional thinking and innovatively use all our resources to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders and the communities in which we work to enable them to rise. That is our unique version of purpose-driven capitalism, and we take comfort in the fact that shaping of this purpose came well before purpose itself became mainstream.”
Enabling the ecosystem to Rise
For almost a decade, the Mahindra Group has been bound by this one purpose to Rise. Inspired by this spirit, along with the legacy and values, the Group’s goal is to positively impact our partners, employees, communities, customers, and the world at large.
However, the biggest accolade for Rise has been that slowly, but surely, it has entered India’s corporate lexicon. The Rise movement has been recognised as an inspired act – within the Group or outside it.
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