LuLu’s ESG Campaign: A Case Study In Careful Planning
One of the many challenges that businesses face today in becoming more socially responsible is putting together a cohesive and effective plan to do so. One of those reasons comes from the potential backlash—public or political—the company could face. In other cases, it can be the lack of nuanced information when making a plan. The plans are too ‘general’.
But one other case could be the fact that there aren’t many ambitious ESG campaigns out there to use as a reliable benchmark in the first place. From research, one particular campaign that would be a great example is the LuLu Group.
LuLu Group is an Indian Emirati-based multinational conglomerate. They operate a chain of hypermarkets (232 stores) and retail companies, with roughly 57,000 employees. And more importantly, they launched an ambitious 12-month campaign that promotes ESG values.
From October 2022 to September 2023, the company is addressing environmental issues and sustainability, promoting social values like diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and managing employee relations through good governance.
How they plan to do all this is through their campaign called GOAL, or ‘Green, Oneness, Awareness, and Life’, which promotes LuLu’s ESG targets. But the major point of this campaign is that they plan to enhance their existing programmes through public participation.
Digging into the details, they plan to tackle each section in the following manner:
Green. Twelve months of unique “green ideas” are already selected and will be implemented throughout the campaign. Each of these add value to the group’s existing environmental and sustainability track record. For more specific details, one plan is to have warehouses run on solar energy and another is to give customers paper bags to use when shopping.
Social. There are plans for various public campaigns, such as winter clothes collection drives and a cleanup initiative, in which employees volunteer time to help clean up public areas like walls, parks, gardens and trash in desert areas. Small businesses will also be given a platform to promote their products and services in-store. There are also plans for a children’s craft programme that will reuse and upcycle household waste products, especially plastics.
Governance. There will be significant focus on employee relations with training, appreciation and recognition opportunities. The company also continues to plan to promote a multinational workforce with strong diversity and inclusion.
Featured Article: Improving Diversity, Equality and Inclusion In Your Workplace
Campaigns focus on the immediate area
These changes that they are proposing are not revolutionary. Paper bag options are a better step than plastic bags for sure. However, some have transitioned to paper bags or have removed plastic bags entirely. Clothing drives, clean-up initiatives, and employee training are also nothing new and exciting either. These have happened many times over in other organisations.
They focus on a specific strength to make it happen
As simple as these projects are - and yes, paper bags instead of plastic, clean-up initiatives, and clothing drives are nothing new - people still think they are worthwhile because LuLu Group leans into one of their many strengths. They incorporated all of this with and not in spite of the fact that they have a large number of employees, as they’re providing plenty of incentives for employees to be actively involved.
Yes, one cleanup session around a park is not going to have much social impact. But what if several parks were cleaned up during a campaign? What if you get interested in that park and decide to go there in the future to read a book, relax, or have a picnic with friends or family?
Now imagine this happening across multiple regions where LuLu Group operates.
These projects not only enhance other's lives but also create other opportunities for employees. There are several incentives that this campaign encourages employees to get involved in.
Companies only need to find their strengths within the communities in which they operate to create something impactful. You can think of it as the secret ingredient to the unique proposition that your company offers. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Again, the Lulu Group is just a collection of numbers.
Public involvement every step of the way
As this is a hypermarket operating in and hiring people directly from local communities, it can be easy for such a company to be disconnected from real interaction with those communities. Think of the ‘traditional’ Wal-Mart scenario where local businesses are squashed without even noticing.
LuLu Group’s plan is stellar in the fact that it has a public element to it. They want to work with and get input from the community. This only serves to benefit them and makes for an effective campaign, as the public can provide a new perspective that executives and managers could miss.
Solutions focus on specific weaknesses
Lastly, while LuLu Group focuses on their strengths, they also address the open possibility of weaknesses and flaws in its business model. What’s nice about this campaign is that it’s clear LuLu Group spent a lot of time answering two distinct questions:
What common problems do companies in our industry have?
What problems do we create by existing as a company?
The second is most important because not many business owners think about this. I feel LuLu Group has done this because part of their social plan is getting small businesses into their stores to promote products and services. This is phenomenal because any big box store, and certainly a hypermarket like LuLu, would push customers away from smaller, locally owned businesses with cheaper products based on how they operate.
Would It Succeed For You?
As the campaign is still underway, it's hard to say how effective it will turn out. As ambitious a plan as it is, an obstacle could be employee involvement. This is likely to not be as big of an issue due to additional incentives for employees, those being employee training (which in turn leads to higher positions and pay) and employee empowerment (in the form of input on projects to undertake in the future).
Capturing all of these elements is bound to make a campaign more effective, regardless of the size or where the company operates. LuLu’s campaign should, whether a huge success or not, provide interesting data on which to model future campaigns that actively support big businesses focussing on the development of social performance within community settings. Follow our growing Company ESG Profiles list to see how other businesses are performing.