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BW Businessworld

From Resilience To Empathy

In an interaction with BW Businessworld, Raju Mistry, President and Global Chief People Officer, Cipla stresses on the need for business leaders to imbibe care and empathy. Edited excerpts:

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he Covid-19 pandemic impacted people and businesses in myriad ways. Along with the various emotions that both experienced, such as grief, sorrow, anger, fear, suspicion, happiness, relief, and so on, the pandemic also made them look at life and its values in new ways as well as learn to care for people and empathise with them.  
“Both personally and professionally, the pandemic has been a mix of experiences but one thing that I shall always think when I look at this entire journey is how we at Cipla and most of the pharma industry rose to the occasion. Because this was really a time when saving people’s lives was of paramount importance,” says Raju Mistry, President and Global Chief People Officer, Cipla, sharing her experiences from the pandemic with BW Businessworld.

Mistry also finds the Covid experience to be rewarding in a different way. “It has made me reflect on lots of dimensions and a lot of things that we normally take for granted. This has also helped us to shed some of those beliefs and reexamine life in more ways.”

Care, compassion and empathy
To illustrate her point, Mistry revisits March 2020, when the lockdowns were announced. She says, “When we were all supposed to stay at home, our employees had to step out to work. They had to fight with their family members and neighbours to step out and some of them were also beaten up by cops. When we hear about such incidents, it immediately strikes us because that employee is not just an employee, rather a daughter or a son. That is the feeling which the lockdown evoked in us. Every member in the company called people to reassure them about safety. All the teams in Cipla worked twice as hard to make sure that the safety of employees is secured. So that was the time which really called for how do you care for them and how do you make their lives easy.”

Mistry recounts how people came to the rescue of some of her colleagues who were living alone during lockdown and got infected with Covid. “But they couldn’t be left to suffer alone. So many people reached out to them to provide all kinds of help and assistance — food, hospitalisation, medicines and all other things that was required. So this all comes from a much deeper feeling and caring, which is ‘empathy’ — the ability to put yourself into other person’s shoes. At that time, empathy became the top most priority for every individual in the country.”

Evolving role of HR
Highlighting the changing role of HR leader, Mistry states, “HR as a function is a custodian of the employees’ interest and safety. That element does not change. The fundamental and biggest change that happened is about dialing up not just the administrative process or policy implementation but an opportunity to relook at every policy, to relook at every process, to go beyond the process and sometimes to not have a process at all because the need of the hour is about doing something which is really out of the box.”  

(With inputs from Upasana)

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Magazine 28 Dec 2021 Raju Mistry