MAS Holdings – which is positioned as the largest apparel tech company in South Asia – is among the most recognised design-to-delivery solution providers in apparel and textile manufacturing. Home to a community of 95,000 people, MAS’ operations span 57 manufacturing plants in 16 countries with established design locations in style centres across the world. Catering to the demands of a dynamic and ever-changing industry, the MAS portfolio has expanded exponentially, filtering into and revolutionising businesses across IT, brands, wearable technology, femtech, medical apparel, startups and fabric parks worldwide.

Q: How has MAS’ response to the pandemic and industry dynamics impacted its image?
A: The pandemic has been a defining moment for MAS, testing our values and proving our promise to all stakeholders.

We stand resolute, learning as we advance, radically adapting to new realities and scaling our le

arning to find innovative solutions to generate revenue for the country and group, and the continued stability of our people.

When corporates play a dominant role in the lives of people and communities, there are expectations of them in routine times and more so during periods of crisis. This is embodied through the MAS value of giving back.

As the crisis hit, we put in place strict health and safety protocols across all our factories, to create a safe and secure working environment for every employee. MAS set up COVID-19 care centres for employees and their families, and extended this to its communities.

We also stepped up to support national efforts by supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to front line workers and through infrastructure investments supporting urgent healthcare needs in hospitals.

Recently, we embarked on mass vaccination drives for employees to protect our people and contribute to increasing immunity levels in the communities.

Throughout this period, there have been tough decisions to make and policies to implement, but we did so in a way that our stakeholders understood and respected the decisions we took.

Even now as the crisis continues, recovery is slow but hopeful. As the world looks to build back better, our values and promise to stakeholders will continue to guide us.

In a place where traditional assumptions are overridden by an opportunity to do things differently, we will build on our learnings and continue to do the things we do well – but also have the inbuilt agility mindset to optimise organisational and industry shifts.

Q: Is there a correlation between winning awards, boosting morale and gaining corporate respect?
A: An accolade or award serves as recognition and an endorsement by third parties. It is social proof demonstrating that an organisation is the best at what it does with external evidence of this recognition to back it.

This enhances the company’s credibility and brand value, and is a platform to showcase best practices at the corporate or industry level.

Awards recognise efforts and achievements by teams, creating a collective sense of pride and belonging for our global associates. A culture of achievement, ownership and purpose are drivers of engagement and motivation.

In unprecedented times such as these, awards and accolades underpin the organisation’s brand image and public perception, reinforcing the trust of all stakeholders and signalling a track record of high standards that are recognised externally.

MAS is privileged to be recognised among the Most Respected entities in Sri Lanka especially when we are credited for what is our general work ethic and ethos. Our core values and DNA enable us to sustain an authentic identity while relating to all stakeholders on dimensions of mutual purpose, which is founded on credibility and dependability cutting across all engagements.

Q: Can corporate respect help organisations navigate the crisis?
A: In times like this, corporates play a critical role in supporting communities and inspiring their confidence.

MAS has made every effort to invest in medical care, workplace safety and community support, while also adapting our capabilities and technology to cater to new demands, such as manufacturing medical wear and PPE.

So far, over 6,000 individuals have completed their recovery process and been discharged from our regional care centres, which are fully funded by MAS.

And in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, we have deployed an extensive vaccination drive for our employees.

Our communities are aware of this, and continue to trust us because of our actions and organisational values.

Rather than corporate respect helping businesses navigate through the pandemic, we believe that how organisations step up to meet its challenges influence the respect they garner.

Q: Does respect within the workplace help nurture admiration for an organisation?
A: Our vision is threefold – to inspire sustainable change in our products, people and the planet. Our actions and responses are driven by this purpose, and more so in times of uncertainty such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We don’t want to merely face change but aim to be change makers by positively impacting lives, livelihoods, and the planet, which we all live on and have been entrusted with.

When the pandemic took root, we galvanised our entire group under a positive message for the way forward – i.e. ‘Together We Will.’ We engaged in extensive internal communications to educate employees on how to protect themselves, ensuring staff were up-to-date on all critical information and guidelines.

To this day, we continue to monitor our employees’ safety, paying special attention to mental health and wellness.

Some of our ongoing community initiatives include supporting education and childcare, supplementing livelihoods by encouraging entrepreneurial initiatives by team members and primarily our Women Go Beyond initiative that drives female empowerment.

These are not things we had to do; they are things we wanted to do – because for us, people always come first. This focus has tremendous positive impacts in terms of nurturing admiration, retaining and recruiting the right talent, and keeping our group robust and healthy.

Q: And how can corporates uplift Sri Lanka’s image on the international stage?
A: At the end of the day, the foundation of any business is its people. This creates a sense of accountability towards a corporate’s country and community – especially as a key player in the international arena.

At MAS, we understand and value this responsibility. From its inception, the group has always put people first, building on an ethos of doing what is right, not only what is required by law. We ensure that the way we work positions Sri Lanka as a respected leader in the apparel industry.

We strive to maintain the highest quality and best practices, assuring strict compliance to governing laws and labour standards.

From sustainable sourcing, recycling and waste transformation, to reducing our emission footprint and extensive investments in solar power generation with what may be the largest collection of roof mounted solar systems in the country, MAS is at the forefront of sustainability, making us a desired partner for global brands.

Apart from our reputation for being an ethical manufacturer, we have inspired groundbreaking innovations in wearable tech­nology and femtech, and transformed sports and performance wear to suit the demands of athletes performing at the highest level at the Olympics, Grand Slams and World Cup finals.

All this contributes to building Sri Lanka’s image as a reliable resource and manufacturing hub for innovative products and outstanding service delivery. At the heart of this is the people – the innovators, designers, engineers, merchandisers and thousands of team members who exemplify the nation’s indomitable spirit.

Shedding light on the group’s operations, MAS Holdings says that itlooks to drive innovative and sustainable changes that enhance its products,improve lives and enrich the planet. As a front-runner in the apparel industry, the group aims to lead by example and transform the way in which Sri Lankan corporates approach the concept of social responsibility.