CSR – Communication with Stakeholders
Receiving Opinions from Experts
We have organized dialogue meetings enabling personnel responsible for advancing CSR initiatives and representatives of departments particularly closely involved in CSR efforts to hear discussions and receive opinions on the topic of important issues for CSR in the Mitsubishi Electric Group from experts with specialized knowledge and extensive experience in the areas of the environment, society, and governance.
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo;
Chairman, Institute for Promoting Sustainable Societies (IPSuS)
Field of specialization: Environmental issues
- Taking the movement away from fossil fuels into consideration, it will be essential to respond to energy issues. In particular, it will be necessary to examine the effective use of unstable power (power from natural sources such as solar, which will not provide a stable supply).
- In order to reduce environmental burden, it is not enough to simply develop products with a minimal environmental burden; it is also necessary to make efforts to increase environmental awareness among customers to help ensure that they use the products correctly.
- In order to respond to diverse expectations from society, it will be essential to cultivate global human resources (engineers, etc.) who understand the diversity among product users in terms of religion and history.
Professor, Faculty of Economics, Reitaku University
Field of specialization: Compliance issues
- The greatest CSR-related risks are anti-competitive practices, and instances of corruption overseas (bribery of public officials, etc.). It will be essential to establish guidelines to prevent corruption in global business activities.
- Japanese companies have been caught up in a number of scandals in the area of business targeting other companies recently. Illegal activities are not allowable, even when attempting to respond to the demands of customers.
- In relation to governance, dialogue between management and stakeholders is essential. It is also important for the relationship between executives to be such that they are able to freely exchange opinions. The realization of effective governance and the setting of key performance indicators that enable the status of governance to be understood are more urgent tasks than satisfying external demands.
Chief Researcher, Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd.;
Co-CEO, Japan Sustainable Investment Forum (JSIF)
Field of specialization: CSR as a whole, ESG Investment, and Ethical Consumption
- It will be necessary to set important agendas in relation to social issues based on consideration of how the company should respond over the long-term.
- It will be desirable to publish information in forms easily understandable for the general public, such as examples of the company's contribution to society through its products and technologies.
- Public attention towards corporate governance is increasing. It is essential to realize effective and highly transparent management.
- Respect for diversity and the realization of working environments in which all employees are able to work comfortably will be important to the resolution of issues related to human resources.
- Responses to human rights, supply chains, and the environment at the global level will be essential.
Corporate Adviser, Nippon Association of Consumer Specialists (NACS)
Field of specialization: Consumer issues
- To ensure that consumers are able to safely use products, it is essential to provide consumers with information to make it possible for them to make their own decisions regarding what the risks are and how they should use a product.
- At the same time, there are consumers who will use a product incorrectly without bothering to read the user's manual. There may also be social issues behind this failure to read the information provided, such as the consumer does not adequately comprehend the meaning of the information released by the company. It is necessary for the company to make effective use of customer opinions, basing itself on an awareness of the actual situation of consumers.
- With regard to the influence of customer choices on the resolution of environmental, safety, human rights, and labor issues, it will be necessary to provide information in order to promote an awareness of the issues in consumers and work to resolve the issues in tandem with this process.
Consulting Fellow, The Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)
Field of specialization: CSR procurement
- CSR means to take into consideration the abstract entity "society" separately from the "customers" considered by business departments.
- With regard to initiatives on the business front, if customer needs exist and an area of activity succeeds as a business, this does not need to be referred to as CSR. I believe that CSR is the creation of "social necessity," as for example when a new service tackling social issues becomes a business.
- I believe that the greater part of CSR-related issues at present involve the supply chain. The important question is to what extent the company is prepared to intervene with suppliers.
A Dialogue with Experts
From left, Shinji Harada, Executive Officer and General Manager, Corporate Administrative Division; Nobuyuki Okuma, Senior Vice President (In charge of CSR); Masaki Sakuyama, President & CEO; Mariko Kawaguchi, Chief Researcher, Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd. and Co-CEO, Japan Sustainable Investment Forum (JSIF); Itaru Yasui, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo and Chairman, Institute for Promoting Sustainable Societies (IPSuS); Iwao Taka, Professor, Faculty of Economics, Reitaku University (As of February 2016)
The Mitsubishi Electric Group has positioned CSR as the foundation of its corporate management, and pursues CSR initiatives based on its Corporate Mission and Seven Guiding Principles. In fiscal 2015, we established a CSR Committee to enhance initiatives that had previously been implemented by our administrative departments. The committee proceeded to identify important issues for the strategic advancement of CSR towards the future. After numerous discussions giving consideration to opinions from within and outside the company, the committee proposed four areas as being of the greatest significance for CSR: the environment, lifestyle, human rights / human resources, and governance and compliance.
The dialogue focused on here, held with three guest experts, was organized in order to objectively verify the relevance of these important issues from a perspective outside the company. We explained the status of our CSR initiatives to them, following which we sought opinions and expectations from the stakeholder perspective. Based on their own specialized standpoints, these experts discussed a wide range of topics, including important technological innovations towards the realization of sustainable societies, the necessity to engage in fair business practices as a global company, and the international trend towards ESG investment. In addition to the identification of important issues for CSR, Mitsubishi Electric's representatives and guest experts engaged in a lively exchange of opinions concerning how best to communicate information regarding the Group's CSR initiatives in Japan and overseas.
Important opinions and suggestions offered by our guest experts
A long-term perspective is essential
A long-term perspective is essential to thinking about technological innovation related to the environment. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015, it will no longer be possible to operate a business unless a net zero level of emissions of greenhouse gases is realized within this century. This largely corresponds to cessation of the use of fossil fuels. It is essential to be aware of the importance of this and to face the necessity squarely. In addition, it is predicted that numerous resources will become depleted by 2050, and I believe that this will increase the importance of the recycling business that Mitsubishi Electric already operates. While Japanese companies tend to think of "targets" as something that must be achieved and avoid making them clear, it is my hope that internationally, Mitsubishi Electric will indicate an orientation and a stance towards "goals," and actively communicate a concrete image of what the Group is aiming towards and how it will make a contribution.
A new awareness and new mechanisms are essential for global business
In developing a global business, the areas that demand particularly prudent responses are anti-competitive practices, and instances of corruption overseas (bribery of public officials, etc.). Each country has its own domestic laws regulating human rights, labor, the environment, and other important areas, and these laws must, as a basic principle, be obeyed when conducting business overseas. However, depending on the country, there are numerous cases in which the rule of law does not function normally as a result of corruption among public officials responsible for enforcing the law. The contemporary global community demands that in countries such as this, companies should use their contract power, and exert their influence throughout the entire supply chain in order to ensure correct behavior. What is needed is for companies to contribute to sustainable development in the countries they advance into through the performance of contracts based on good faith.
The speeding-up of ESG investment represents a business opportunity for Mitsubishi Electric
Globally, the scale of the ESG investment market was 21.3 trillion US dollars in 2014. More than half of the top 20 pension funds have signed the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). In the area of the environment, attention has been focused on the risk to business represented by climate change, and moves to reduce CO2 emissions from assets held between the world's major institutional investors have accelerated. Japan has lagged behind, but even here the signing of the PRI by the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) has rapidly increased momentum towards ESG investments. This trend represents a significant business opportunity for Mitsubishi Electric.
In order to engage with socially responsible investment, it is necessary to clarify the important issues, and to provide explanations that lay out a vision, indicating why particular areas are being emphasized and how specific initiatives will lead to increased corporate value. Mitsubishi Electric's identification of important issues for CSR corresponds to this process, and is to be praised.
In Response to the Dialogue
Senior Vice President (In charge of CSR)
As a global company, we understand the effect we have on the countries in which we conduct our business activities, and we reaffirm the importance of fully accepting the responsibility that this entails. We also recognize that the communication of information when we have put a CSR initiative into effect represents an issue, and in the future we will both advance our CSR initiatives and provide information concerning those initiatives more strategically. Thank you for offering your opinions today.