Community service is deep-rooted in Vistara’s culture and it is reinforced through various volunteering activities. For most of us, it is a way of life to be conscious about community, the environment, and holistic well-being of the society. 

The Ideas Series

…The lockdown period and the many don’ts that we continued to follow subsequently have been an eye-opener, telling us that less is sufficient and that we had merely got used to excess in most things. Imagine, we had even got used to air pollution! Faced with a stay-home-or-risk-your-life situation, many of us fell back on what we had all but forgotten – our creativity and our instinct to find joys in the little things. Sure, there was restlessness, worry and fear, but these happened alongside a different sort of unravelling of our minds which made us see things we had forgotten to notice. Rainbows for example, or rivers and blue skies. The music that happens in nature when the sound of traffic dies out. There were reports of sightings of animals in our otherwise urban jungles.

Maybe these were signs that it wasn’t too late yet. Too late for what, some may be wondering. Well, too late to turn back the clock on an environmental disaster that has been in the making through the decades of decadence and will someday choke us human beings out of existence. Sure, it’s not going to be you and me or even our children, but what about their children and their children’s children? Does the possibility of their existence in a cold world not disturb us, or does it sound dystopian, the stuff of science fiction… Read the full introduction to the series here.

In an effort to understand what leaders at various organisations are doing towards making a sustainable world a reality, CauseBecause reached out to them and asked what they can do to make sustainable living a way of life and how do they see their role as individuals as well as leaders in organisations. The participants include:

Anirban Ghosh, Mahindra
Gayatri Divecha, Godrej
Rajiv Williams, Jindal Stainless
Ramji Raghavan, Agastya International
Rashmi Soni, Vistara
Shalini Singh, Tata Power
Vijay Sethi, Hero MotoCorp
Vikram Gulati, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

We had started a campaign in October 2019, #RethinkSingleUsePlastic, that aimed at reducing single-use plastic in our own operations, offices and daily lives. We had removed the 200ml plastic water bottles and single-use plastic pouches altogether from meal trays. We invited employees to take action and reduce plastic waste by bringing their own water bottles. The Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) drive and the sale of ecofriendly cloth bags at the corporate office encouraged staff to embrace the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle). This was complemented by a wider corporate drive that replaced plastic water bottles with glass water carafes, introduced biodegradable plastic waste bags, and eliminated plastic by introducing stainless-steel cutlery in the cafeteria and on-board our flights. Such actions do not just remain restricted to the office or business operations but also become part of our lifestyle. 

Additionally, engaging with local communities to help them with basic education, career counselling and skill development, and sensitising them about environment conservation are a few things that everyone can do since all it costs is dedicating a little bit of time. 

–As leaders/decision makers
As an organisation, working from home (WFH) was not a conventional option for us prior to the pandemic. It is difficult for an airline to switch to the ‘work from home’ mode, as majority of employees either have to operate flights or are required at the airport for customer management. However, for the staff at our corporate office and others who could work remotely, we modified some of our internal processes to adapt to the new normal. At the same time, we realise that this is not a sustainable solution for most service organisations such as hotels, hospitals and airlines. Also, to travel and meet people are innate needs of human beings and eventually the demand for corporate and leisure travel will pick up. Having said that, people are increasingly learning to travel in a responsible and sustainable manner. 

As part of safety precautions to deal with the pandemic, we distributed 3ply washable and reusable cotton masks to employees and select airport staff sourced from local NGOs, thereby not just preventing single-use plastic from going to a landfill but also financially empowering the women associated with the NGOs. 

At Vistara, we strongly believe in giving back to the local communities we operate in. As part of our ongoing efforts, we launched the Vistara Wellness Initiative in April this year. We collaborated with Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) to distribute over 50,000 long shelf-life nutritious food items to the frontline health workers. Since then, we have been able to distribute over 100,000 nutrition and sanitisation items to thousands of people across the country. 

During the nationwide lockdown, we supported Government of India’s ‘Mission Lifeline UDAN’ initiative by deploying our newly inducted Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft to transport relief material, medical supplies and essential commercial goods. Between April and June 2020, Vistara carried 27 tonnes of cargo free of cost (FOC) – financially valued at nearly INR 2 million. Vistara continues to carry FOC cargo to transport medical supplies and recently facilitated the transport of 300+ kg of PPE kits from Delhi to Leh for Tibetan Children’s Village, a non-profit organisation. 

Given our heritage of being a Tata and Singapore Airlines joint venture and a responsible corporate citizen, we at Vistara deeply care about the economic and social development of communities and environmental protection. Sustainability has always been an integral part of our business strategy and we continuously strive to create value for all our stakeholders, including the communities we operate in. 

Rashmi Soni is Vice President & Head, Corporate Communications & CSR, Vistara

Our key communication objective over the years has been to not just create awareness about our initiatives but also to encourage people towards positive actions. We have strategically leveraged multiple communication channels to initiate conversations and call to action around community service and environment conservation. For instance, as part of the #RethinkSingleUsePlastic campaign, we encouraged our customers to participate and reduce their plastic footprint through simple actions. 

Additionally, we regularly inform all stakeholders about our various initiatives and efforts towards the community through regular media outreach, social media communication, newsletters, our in-flight magazine, direct outreach and brand collaterals. 

Customers are the most important stakeholders for any brand and their loyalty is mostly a combination of several brand attributes including contribution towards the community and environment. As a socially responsible brand, it is imperative to engage with customers and constantly communicate the brand’s purpose and vision with them.