Pradeep Parameswaran, Regional General Manager, APAC, Uber
Over the past few months, it seems the world itself turned upside down. Everything changed. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to the well-being and safety of our communities. Even as the pandemic impacted businesses and millions of lives around the world, Uber continued to stand in solidarity with authorities and supported them to help contain the spread of COVID-19. While these are undoubtedly difficult times, they also provide us an opportunity to steer the resilient ship of life with the assistance of a moral and ethical compass.
During the lockdown, we urged our riders to stay at home and only #MoveWhatMatters. We launched multiple services for supporting the community and created earning opportunities for drivers. These included UberMedic to transport healthcare workers, UberEssential to facilitate essential travel, a delivery service to transport daily provisions to households, and Uber Connect to deliver packages. Uber also pledged free rides worth $800,000 to the National Health Authority of India and various state governments to help transport our frontline healthcare workers and warriors. All our UberMedic cars were equipped with a roof-to-floor plastic sheeting enclosing the driver partner’s seat, thereby acting as a protective barrier between riders and driver partners.
Our collective actions have made it clear that we can overcome and win this war if we operate as a unified force. It has given us a newfound, renewed appreciation of the inherent good in all of us and has led the business community, right from the corner grocery store to the Fortune 500 giants, to assess our culture and habits. At Uber, we have never drifted from our long-term commitment to act ethically, even under the most trying circumstances—and thanks to our continued partnerships with organizations like Ethisphere, we see more business organizations and CEOs realising the sustainable value of purpose-driven business outcomes.
As India begins easing its lockdown, we want to emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever, not only from a business perspective, but as an example of a company that did its part. As we resume operation across 70+ cities, we understand we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our riders, our drivers, and the community at large. We’ve allocated $50 million globally to purchase safety supplies like masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, disinfectant sprays, and shower caps. We have already instituted a comprehensive set of safety measures, such as the Go Online Checklist, a mandatory mask policy for both riders and drivers, pre-trip mask verification selfies for drivers, mandatory driver education, and an updated cancellation policy allowing both riders and drivers to cancel trips if they don’t feel safe.
When I was asked to pen this letter for Ethisphere’s BELA South Asia Magazine and serve as guest editor, I was excited at the opportunity to share the need to build a more long-term ethical business ecosystem. Ethisphere’s data shows that companies who are assets to their communities do better business. As Ethisphere Chief Executive Officer Tim Erblich rightly said, “We see the hard work done by leading companies to take on some of society’s most pressing issues, and this approach not only promotes stronger companies and communities, it also boosts the bottom line—this is smart business.”
This edition of Ethisphere’s BELA South Asia Magazine is comprised of an array of interesting and informative articles from a diverse set of company leaders across India, including Mr. Anand Kripalu, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Diageo India; Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry; Ms. Piya Haldar, Director of Compliance, Honeywell; Mr. Tabrez Ahmad, Group Director, Government Affairs, and Ms. Diana Philip, Senior Advisor-Government Relations, Dell; EY’s Forensic & Integrity Services leaders: Mr. Arpinder Singh, Partner and Head – India and Emerging Markets and Yogen Vaidya, Partner; and much more.
At the risk of sounding overly sanguine during these troubled times, I say, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” It is the responsibility of purpose-driven companies like us to add a sense of calm and security, which we can do by simply caring and adhering to our cultural values and principles. It is during challenging times like these that people need more than ever the security of knowing that the businesses they rely on can—well and truly—always be relied on to do the right thing. They want to be reminded that there is a tide that will lift them. It is our job—and duty—to make sure we don’t let them down.
Regional General Manager, APAC, Uber