Tata Group chairman emeritus Ratan Tata on Thursday said retrenchment of employees by Indian companies in these Covid-19 unprecedented times is not the solution, emphasising that it was a knee-jerk reaction and the way of doing business has to change in the post-coronavirus world.
It is worth mentioning here that Tata Group has not fired any staff, while several Indian companies have cut workforce because of lack of cash flow after the countrywide lockdown. However, the salt-to-software conglomerate has slashed salaries of its top management by up to 20 per cent. Many Tata Group firms, including its hotels, airlines, auto business, and financial services are badly hit in the pandemic-induced slowdown but have not fired employees to date.
In an interaction with Your Story, the ace industrialist and philanthropist said: “Accept that you have to change in terms of what you consider is fair and necessary in order to survive. One cannot continue to do business in certain ways and one won’t survive if you are not sensitive to all your stakeholders. Working from home is one solution. Laying-off people will not help you solve your problems as you have a responsibility to those employees.”
Furthermore, speaking about the importance of ethics in business, he highlighted that it is hard to survive as an organisation if one is ‘not sensitive to its people’, emphasising that “business is not only about making money and one has to do everything right and ethically for customers and stakeholders.”
While the Covid-19 crisis has created multiple challenges on economic and healthcare front, the industrialist is of the opinion that this could be the opportune time to explore innovative and creative solutions. “Some of the most interesting or tremendous solutions have been found at moments of distinct difficulties … we tend to be more innovative and creative to find solutions in such times …,” he told the website.
Terming the pandemic as one of “the worst crisis” the human race has faced, Tata said: “We must fight this with a spirit of solidarity, resolve, empathy, and understanding. We must unite to win the battle against Covid-19.”
An anguished Tata said that the way migrant workers were left jobless due to strict nationwide coronavirus lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic has demonstrated a lack of business ethics.
“These are the people that have worked for you … You send them out to live in the rain. Is that your definition of ethics when you treat your labour force that way?”, asked the Tata Group patriarch in the interview to the news website.
Asked about what he missed the most during the Covid-19 crisis, the businessman said he has not gone out since March when the Centre imposed the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. “It’s not been yachts, manors, and huge estates. It’s been a wonderful experience of interacting with people who stand for the same ideas as you do… that’s something I’ve come to miss,” he mentioned.