Over 99 percent of CEOs in India are optimistic about India’s growth story in the next 12 months and some 94 percent are optimistic about the global growth –
25th PwC Global CEO Survey.
Despite a variety of headwinds, mostly related to the ongoing COVID pandemic, CEOs in India are significantly optimistic about the prospects for a stronger economy in 2022. When it comes to the revenue prospects of their own companies, 98% of CEOs are confident about growth in 2022.
These are India highlights from PwC’s 25th Annual Global CEO Survey, which polled 4,446 CEOs in 89 countries and territories between October–November 2021; the India highlights include insights from 77 CEOs from India.
While there is optimism, concerns about some clear threats for India’s CEOs continue to remain. Last year, 70% of India CEOs viewed the pandemic as a top threat to growth, while 62% considered cyber threats as an impediment to growth. This year:
- 15% of CEOs in India are apprehensive about cyber risks hindering their company’s ability to raise capital. India CEOs also agree that cyber risks could cause severe revenue disruptions, with 64% of respondents fearing a breach could hinder sales of products or services. Besides business disruptions, 47% of them believe cyber threats could impede their ability to develop products and services.
- 89% of India CEOs are concerned about health risks – 9% higher than their global counterparts. This is perhaps an indication that business leaders would like to exercise caution when it comes to making early investment and business decisions, despite vaccination drives worldwide. Concern over the ability to attract and retain talent (61%) is also strongly linked in CEOs’ minds with health risks.
- Adding to the continued challenge of the mutating COVID-19 virus is the rising geopolitical conflict that has led to global disruptions in commerce.
Long-term strategy for growth
Despite rising interest in ESG, strategy is still primarily driven by business metrics, both globally as well as in India. Most CEOs have goals related to nonfinancial outcomes such as customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and automation or digitization included in their long-term strategy. In strategies and compensation, less well represented are targets related to workforce gender representation and climate mitigation and adaptation.
- 81% and 75% of India CEOs include customer satisfaction and employee engagement metrics respectively in their company’s long-term corporate strategy.
- 78% of India CEOs include automation and digitisation goals in their company’s long-term corporate strategy.
- 17% and 14% of India CEOs factor in gender representation and greenhouse gas emissions respectively in their company’s annual bonus or long-term incentive plans.
The diverse paths to net-zero
It is heartening to note that of the Indian companies that participated in the survey, 27% already have a net-zero commitment (22% globally) in place, 40% are in the process of developing and articulating their commitments (29% globally), and only 30% have neither made nor are in the process of making any net-zero commitment (globally 44%).
At the sector level, energy, utilities, and resources are the most represented ones among those that have made net-zero commitments. This reinforces the fact that high-emitting (and hard-to-abate) industries are often front and centre when it comes to climate action, placing them in the complex but critical role of problem-contributor and problem-solver.
The survey results point to capability-building priorities related to cyber security, the cultivation of trust, and the measurement and management of decarbonization. When leaders are stretching to reimagine their organizations’ place in the world and juggling an ever-broader array of competing priorities, growth mindsets, empathy, and a willingness to embrace, debate and dissent become more important than ever. This is interlinked with the need to adopt a democratic yet firm approach to drive reskilling and upskilling as priority programmes to ensure stronger corporate culture, effective governance, transparent and integral disclosure, greater innovation, and higher workforce productivity.
Looking forward – priorities for the CEO
The opportunity – and the challenge – is clear: Progress on society’s toughest problems will be limited without bold action from CEOs stewarding critical corporate resources. Near-term financial imperatives remain mission-critical, even as broader societal needs demand more mindshare. Moreover, to drive the growth agenda, build trust and deliver sustained outcomes driven by human-led tech enablement, organizations have to substantially strengthen the following supply chain capabilities to ensure the availability of products for evolving consumer needs:
- Build segmented supply chains to service the shift in consumer expectations across new channel models such as direct to consumer and e-commerce.
- Build digital supply chains that would enable organizations to prioritize differential service expectations of consumers and across channels. This would also build visibility across supply chains and help design supply chains that are more responsive to volatile demands.
- Work on strong digital collaboration models with ecosystem players leveraging emerging technologies to counter disruptions through visibility, transparency, and simulation capabilities at scale and speed.
- Diversify supply chain risks by a calibrated shift from global to diversified global to localized models for strategic requirements.
- Reimagine supply chains for ESG considerations across value chains, including ecosystem players (suppliers, distributors, technology players) – to realize net-zero targets by reducing, reusing, recycling, and removing carbon, thereby enhancing the positive environmental and societal impacts through effective collaborations.