Talks that Matter - Meet Swati Randeev-Verma, Sustainability Manager PwC Middle East

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Read her Talks that Matter Interview below



1. What is your background in CSR and current position? I’ve spent the past 10 years in various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability roles, across industries such as Accounting, Finance, Consulting, and e-commerce. Currently, I lead Corporate Responsibility (CR) and Sustainability for PwC Middle East.

2. What does the CSR program/effort at your company locally and/or globally look like and what are the most pressing goals you want to achieve? Our most significant societal impact comes from the work we do every day supporting our clients across the globe. We believe in sharing PwC’s greatest asset – the skills, knowledge and talent of our people – to drive change and build trust. Globally, PwC has committed to two goals in an attempt to accelerate on our impact journey. Our Community Ambition is to invest in the future growth of 15 million people, NGOs and social and micro enterprises to help them maximize their potential by 2022. We aim to do this by exploring opportunities to work with them on a skilled volunteering, pro-bono or mentoring basis. The aim is to engage our colleagues to help create longer lasting impact and sustainable change within these organisations. And our Environment Ambition is to drive efficiency to reduce our absolute carbon impact, and in order to achieve that, we have committed to offsetting air travel emissions from FY19 and to sourcing 100% renewables for our electricity consumption and offsetting residual energy use by FY22.

3. What is most inspiring about your work? I work with some of the greatest minds in the world. My colleagues work with global governments to help them with their sustainability agendas and structure future cities for them, and with local legislators in influencing public policy, among other such incredible projects. It’s truly inspirational to see how we as individuals, and as a part of the private sector can bring about change that is long lasting, and will have an impact on generations to come. And being able to learn from them and attempt to implement some of these concepts locally is perhaps the most inspirational element of my job!


4. What has been the biggest challenge so far? Oh, that’s a tough one! I think the geography that I operate in is going through some drastic geopolitical changes and we need to constantly take a step back and review our approach towards CR and Sustainability. And, not to mention, the constant political volatility of this region is a constant reality check as well. But given how “new” some of the governments in this region are, they themselves are going through a steep learning curve in this field. One of the constant struggles, and perhaps one of the biggest challenges I face as a CR practitioner in this region, is trying to have a better understanding of some of the newly formed laws and their implementation. And not because they’re not articulate, but more so because their implementation and expectation from individuals and corporates is perhaps a bit blurry given how young these laws themselves are. And given that we always want (and need!) to be compliant with the law, it can get a tad tricky!


5. What would you say a business needs if it wants to start introducing CSR practices? I think any business that wants to introduce CSR needs to have the right drive behind it. If a business is considering setting up CSR as a tick in the box, then it’s going to drastically miss the point, and potentially fail at achieving the goal. There needs to be a strong element of sustainability that has to be considered, of course, but it also has to be implemented as a core element of business operations. CSR is not about merely running ad-hoc or even structured CSR initiatives, but more about cultivating a culture of doing-good in the work place.


6. How do you communicate your CSR efforts at your company to your stakeholders? Communication is a tad tricky. In a world where social media has taken over and people’s attention spans have become drastically shorter, it is that much more challenging to communicate about CR and sustainability. And this is not so much because there is lack of interest – because there isn’t! – but more because people are flooded with emails and newsletters about various different things. That said, there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach that can be used. And we’ve seen this over years of trial-and-error. We’ve got a number of different internal and external platforms through which we communicate our CR goals and achievements with our stakeholders. These range from leadership communication, to more targeted team newsletters, and even articles published on an internal communications platform. And, in this age of social media, we often share our stories on Twitter and LinkedIn. We need to keep up with the times! Each year we externally publish our annual review, and as part of that, we feature key CR statistics and case studies. We find this to be an extremely impactful way of communicating our CR goals, ambitions and achievements with external stakeholders, especially clients.

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