Through heat waves and rain fury, businesses navigate climate change

Recruitment firms have seen the challenges in getting workforce during the heatwaves and how companies are often forced to turn remote. (Photo: Mint)
Recruitment firms have seen the challenges in getting workforce during the heatwaves and how companies are often forced to turn remote. (Photo: Mint)

Summary

  • The ongoing heatwave in north India and prediction of above-normal monsoon this year by the met department has seen top e-commerce and food delivery companies like Flipkart, Amazon and Zomato taking steps to protect their delivery force

Mumbai: As climate change exacerbates harsh weather—unexpected heatwaves, never-seen-before downpours, cold waves in winter, severe floods—corporations across industries are reworking their contingency plans, including cancelling meetings, taking detours, handling labour shortages, enduring impact on product launches, and so on.

For instance, the Dubai downpour—its heaviest in 75 years—and floods earlier this week saw a Mumbai-based business house rejig the flights of its global team who were on their way to Dubai. After enduring multiple flight cancellations, some are now taking connecting long-haul flights while many are yet to even get flight tickets.

In India, lakhs of delivery executives and gig workers across e-commerce platforms work for longer hours during summers when students are at home or tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) are on. The ongoing heatwave in north India and prediction of above-normal monsoon this year by the met department has seen top e-commerce and food delivery companies like Flipkart, Amazon and Zomato taking steps to protect their delivery force.

“During the current summer season, a few additional inclusions in the daily routine of... delivery workforce include the distribution of glucose beverages, provision of additional fans and coolers across facilities, and facilitating summer safety management briefings to ensure heatwave advisories are adhered to," said Prajakta Kanaglekar, vice president and HR leader at Flipkart. The e-commerce firm is offering flexible afternoon delivery schedules for its executives.

Rival Amazon has upped air conditioning in its buildings , offering oral rehydration solutions to its associates.

“With several parts of the country witnessing significant heat due to high temperatures along with humidity, a ‘heat stress prevention’ program has been developed for associates in our buildings and out on the road making customer deliveries," the company spokesperson said.

Food delivery platform Zomato has 450 rest points across 40 plus cities that are equipped with comfortable seating, free drinking water, mobile charging points and clean washroom facilities. The company plans to take the number to 5,000-plus rest points by June 2024 with the help of its restaurant partners.

“These are aimed to support the entire gig economy and delivery partners of various companies in between deliveries...With our pioneering weather-forecast systems, we also send out pre-emptive signals of upcoming heatwaves to all delivery partners, allowing them to protect themselves from severe weather conditions," the company said in an email response to Mint.

The weather forecast system is an internal app that gives delivery people real-time data about weather. The app was implemented a couple of years ago .

Recruitment firms have seen the challenges in getting workforce during the heatwaves and how companies are often forced to turn remote. 

“Over the last few years, cities like Chennai have seen floods and companies had to figure out ways to allow employees to work from home by offering them devices with protocols in place," said Kartik Narayan, chief executive officer (CEO), staffing, Teamlease Services. “In northern India, companies hiring gig workers face challenges and have to find ways to provide for their safety against heatwaves."

Although Covid-19 has forced India Inc. to be ready with contingency plans, business houses say weather-related hurdles are a common discussion point. “In all our meetings during this period, the question is what is the latest on monsoons," said Praveen Purohit, deputy chief human resources officer (CHRO) of Vedanta Group. “For us, if there are floods, then road transport from key production areas gets impacted."

The energy firm depends on experts in its ESG (environmental social and governance) team and others in its safety teams to estimate weather-related hurdles in its transport and supply chains .

Consumer firms, too, are often hit by erratic weather patterns. Countries such as India are more susceptible to adverse effects of climate change as a large part of the country’s population relies on rainfall to sustain farm production and livelihoods. Such events also threaten the availability of daily food products such as wheat, fruits and even coffee.

Nestlé reckons rising temperatures will reduce the area suitable for growing coffee by up to 50% by 2050. In 2022, as part of a global project , the company pledged to invest over one billion Swiss francs (then $1.1 billion) in its Nescafé Plan 2030—an extensive project to help make coffee farming more sustainable and help farmers transition to regenerative agriculture. Mint had reported last year how ITC Ltd has been working proactively with farmers in its supply chain over the years to mitigate the risks arising from climate change.

Catch all the Corporate news and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
more

MINT SPECIALS