As A Food Entrepreneur, Here’s What I Learnt About Moral Responsibilities Of Brands During COVID
- A crisis brings you clarity about what is truly important, and as an entrepreneur in the food business at The Baker’s Dozen, our moral responsibility was to our customers for a safe product.
The current pandemic situation is an extraordinary time for everyone and for every individual. We are all experiencing situations at work and home which we hadn’t planned for or haven’t dealt with earlier in life. At times, I feel as if I am living in a movie; very unreal with lots on highs and lows. Yet it’s a real situation, and we need to address it head-on and be supportive to each other as much as we can. To give you some background, I come from a family of freedom fighters. I grew up listening to real-life stories from my Biji (maternal great grand-mother) and Nana of how the entire country had united during the freedom struggle; whether it was 5-year-old child distributing pamphlets or a young man following leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel or Bhagat Singh. Women, young and old were on their toes to sew khadi at home to make sure everyone wore desi as part of the Swadeshi Movement. I found these stories very inspiring as a child. The people of that generation experienced a time of struggle and did their share of duty towards the nation. They developed a value set that was unique to them. I always wondered if we would ever be lucky to serve our nation like that and do something worth being proud of for our nation. When COVID-19 started hitting India, we at The Baker’s Dozen considered shutting our factory to ensure everyone was safe, and took a 2-day shut down around the Janta Curfew day. We soon got calls from our customers in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi to know if we will be supplying the next set of orders, and could we provide contactless delivery?
- A moral responsibility to provide essentials
They needed food, and I started thinking that if today Indians like us who provide daily essentials would stop producing, we may have a bigger problem on our hands than even COVID 19. We realized that it was our moral responsibility to be able to provide fellow Indians with their basic food requirement. Finally, the chance had come where we could serve our nation similar to how our forefathers had, during the freedom struggle. We’re operating at a 50% lower capacity, but our entire staff is showing up every day to serve you – our customers and our country. I feel our moral responsibility lies in 3 areas.
- To provide food
We at The Baker’s Dozen consider it to be our moral responsibility to be able to supply daily essentials at this difficult time that our country is going through. Even with limited manpower and lockdown restraints, we are ensuring a consistent supply of bread as much as possible.
- To protect our staff
Our priority was first to ensure the utmost hygiene and safety procedures at our manufacturing set up and at our stores, for our staff and their health. We have ensured that the staff we have at the manufacturing facility have no travel history in the 3 weeks prior to lockdown or interactions with people with one. This means we are working with a lower staff strength than usual. We provide them with transport to ensure they don’t use any form of public transport. Our staff is also working while keeping a safe distance. We monitor their temperatures and our personnel hygiene protocols are very stringent. Even before the lockdown or Janta curfew was put into action, considering the safety of our store staff and delivery staff, we had started the process of contactless delivery. This meant pre-paid orders, delivery at the entrance of complex or if it’s door-step delivery, then maintaining a safe distance. Our delivery boys are trained to sanitize their hands frequently and use masks. At stores, we have similar sanitation processes as in our factory for personnel hygiene and sanitization of work counters, doors knobs, etc.
- The product to be hygienic, healthy, and safe
We have always believed in a product that is hygienic, healthy, natural. Every employee at The Bakers Dozen believes in this.. The sanitation process of our equipment and facility is very stringent, to ensure that the product has the highest hygiene standard. Training our staff to be extra cautious and washing their hands even more frequently at this time wasn’t a separate, new task at all… simply because we are already so used to following the highest standards of maintaining health and hygiene. We have only a select few people who are allowed to touch the product post-baking until it’s been packed in the inert atmosphere in the special barrier packaging film that we use. The staff that is in contact maintains hygienic protocols of covering their arms and hands, sanitization of work surfaces the product is on, wearing marks, etc.
- To ensure safety and efficiency of delivery
During this period, every company is coming up with efficient ways of working due to a lack of manpower. Our delivery mechanisms on the sales-end are becoming more efficient by doing bulk deliveries in areas or complexes. Such practices bring about a lot of operational efficiency for the brand and the customer. It is our job to ensure we can follow such practices post COVID too. We need to spend time and resources on developing customer awareness in the arising need for simplifying lifestyle choices and streamlining our lives. All hygiene processes that have been developed or created during this period must be followed with the same diligence post-COVID too. This problem is not going to disappear so easily and there is always a possibility of resurgence. We must ensure the safety of staff hygiene of the product is never compromised.
- A period of learning as an entrepreneur
As I have learned in these past eight weeks, a crisis brings you clarity about what is truly important. Though we have been through a whirlwind, some things are clearer to me than ever before. We are also ensuring that even post COVID when sales start to pick up we still control pricing and don’t do unreasonable hikes and make the products available at regular rates to the customers. And finally, I am thankful that we are guided by such a thoughtful and supportive team of employees and associates who have proven to be the very best through all of their efforts, advice and have stood by every decision made by us. Throughout this harrowing experience, I have been inspired by all of you. Even in the worst of circumstances, I’ve seen the very best of us. There is undoubtedly more uncertainty and tough decisions ahead of us for the upcoming days. And we will tackle them as a team, with a wide range of voices and perspectives that will make us stronger.