To most, Sustainability is an abstract concept linked with Ecology and the environment. However, when we deeply reflect on the word sustainability, it manifests in every aspect of our lives. To get an understanding of what sustainability could mean in the Corporate Space, we interviewed our Alumni, Poornima Kulathu. She’s a Banker, Executive Coach, Corporate Mentor, Public Speaker and an Author.
Here are some excerpts from the interview, where Poornima deep dives into what Sustainability means for her personally as well as a Banker
What comes to your mind when you think of sustainability?
In an ever-changing and shrinking world, sustainability would mean many different things. Personally, social sustainability both interests and alarms me. As we make economic progress, how well is human social and personal life supported? Communities that are equitable, diverse and democratic, provide a good quality of life. We can build socially sustainable communities, only when the current community is robust and can also grow and support future generations. Gender equity is an important aspect of social sustainability. As a woman who has to constantly break the glass ceiling, gender diversity, fairness and policies that benefit oppressed genders come to mind as a way to create a sustainable community.
As more and more women enter the workforce, laws and norms are needed to sustain the family structure and extend support to the working woman so she does not have to choose between a career and family. Social sustainability within corporates would mean making paternity leave the norm, or extending longer maternity leave, or providing for childcare, or creating flexible work schedules or including new ways for people to work regardless of their gender.
How does sustainability relate to the banking industry?
In the banking sector, sustainability simply means innovation. The pandemic threw a spanner in the works for banks. Being a pillar of economic growth, the pandemic meant that unorthodox ways of banking were quickly needed with little to no human intervention. Digital banking burst forth on the scene. Technology was used to create digital tools and processes to compensate for in-person transactions. Payment apps were launched. Fintech companies rolled out digital products for account opening, funds transfer etc, revolutionizing banking. Digital banking is not just fast, it has better accuracy, due to the elimination of human error and is cheap, the benefit of which is directly passed on to the customer. Economic sustainability in the banking industry is no longer possible without constant, rapid and robust technological innovation.
What does the industry need to do to remain relevant? What could be done to sustain and thrive?
While it is critical that we constantly innovate, what would be indispensable is the human aspect of banking and financial services. Banking is built on the human experience of engagement, loyalty and satisfaction or delight, in addition to technology. In a highly competitive world, customer delight is a critical identifier for brand promoters and detractors. Face-to-face banking should never be obsolete despite the many strides in digitization.
In addition, the responsibility of reducing the unbanked population must be borne directly by the banking sector. Banks, that have a presence in rural geographies and that have tailor-made financial products for all demographics, are the ones who would sustain and thrive in the long run. Because is it sufficient for only one-half of the populace to use banking services while the rest languishes without as much as an understanding of what banking means and how it impacts social and economic life?
So there you have it, straight from the source, sustainability for the banking sector is way more than ecology, it’s about rapid digitization, accessibility to the farthest of geographies, and all this without losing the personal touch that generates the trust that a customer requires in a bank.
All this can be possible only if we generate a sustainable working environment, that is equally accessible to all, regardless of gender or class.
To connect with Poornima Kulathu and discuss more about Sustainability in Banking or Coaching in general, reach out to her on Coachnook.com – https://coachnook.com/members/11131738 or follow her on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/poornima-kulathu-84a42a11