JRD Tata – Importance of People in Business

It is not what we put on our plate or even what we eat that provides nourishment and growth, but what we digest.

Aiming for excellence

JRD Tata was a French born Indian aviator and business tycoon. He was the Chairman of Tata Sons for 52 years, during which he grew the company to the multi-industry conglomerate that it is today. He also strongly advocated business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

Having started his career in 1925, he went from unpaid intern to Chairman in just 13 years through sheer hard work and perseverance. JRD owed his success to the aim for perfection. He believed that aiming for perfection results in excellence.

Growth and integrity

When author R.M Lala questioned JRD in 1979, as to why the company hadn’t grown much in the past two decades, he replied that if they had done some of the things that some other groups have done, they would have been twice as big as they are today. But they didn’t, and he would not have it any other way.

He was also extremely diligent when it came to his taxes. Tax evasion was punishable, but tax avoidance was legal. He forbade his employees from tax avoidance too because it was not right, even if it was legal.

JRD believes that corporates can have a conscience

He wanted workers to have a say in their own welfare and safety, and he wanted their suggestions on the running of the company. He created a personnel department to cater to their needs and make sure peace was maintained between the management and labour at all times. To him, ethics encompassed gratitude, loyalty and affection too.

What we know today as Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR was first introduced by JRD. By expanding the ambit of social obligations that a company has, he created an ecosystem that benefits people, profit and planet. To put JRD’s ideas into action, the rulebooks of leading Tata companies were amended and social obligations beyond the welfare of employees was accepted as part of the group’s objectives.

Action Summary

  • Never compromise on your values

  • To be a leader you have to lead your team with affection

  • Aim for perfection, you will achieve excellence

  • Strive to serve the needs of the country and people

~ Amala Putrevu