Research Institude of Economy. Trade and Industry
Graduate School of Economic Science. Saitama University
Last year, Sojitz clarified its approach to CSR by setting four CSR priority themes. In this year's annual report, President Kase presented the Sojitz Group's CSR initiatives as contributions to society through business activities, and talked about his determination to focus even more on the priority themes. Therefore, I have evaluated the Sojitz Group's CSR activities and stated my expectations for future initiatives along the lines of the four priority themes below.
Four CSR Priority Themes
(1)Promotion of CSR Supply Chain Management
A survey of suppliers was conducted along with the presentation of the Sojitz Group CSR Action Guidelines for Supply Chains. Last year, I pointed out the importance of being aware of suppliers' work and environments while building a shared understanding with them through constant communication. This year, the Sojitz Group took an important step in that direction. Two remaining issues for the future are disclosure of the progress of initiatives and preparation of contingency plans.
(2) Promotion of Businesses That Contribute to Preventing Climate Change
The relationships between Sojitz Group businesses, such as the bioethanol business in Brazil, and prevention of climate change are explained clearly. In the future, I would like to see a report on how Sojitz's Environmental Policy is being applied in business activities, such as mine development, that are generally considered to have a large impact on the environment; in particular, what Sojitz is doing to minimize that impact.
(3) Promotion of Businesses That Contribute to the Advance of Developing and Emerging Countries
Businesses described in this year's annual report, such as the cogeneration projects in the Russian Far East, are expected to contribute to local economies. Mentioning the connection between these projects and the local communities would promote a more well-rounded understanding of the relationship between Sojitz Group businesses and the advance of developing and emerging countries.
(4) Establishment of Personnel Systems and Workplace Environments That Enable All Employees to Flourish
Promotion of work-life balance in ways such as extending child care leave and introducing a subsidy system for the use of babysitters and promotion of diversity by encouraging the active participation of women were important advances. I would like to see a greater focus on these areas. In addition, opportunities should be opening up for all employees to shine in the global arena according to their talents and wishes. From that perspective, I hope that the global human resources strategy will also lead to the globalization of head office human resources.
Global Social Contribution and Assisting in the Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction
The pre-school education support project in Tanzania is expected to help expand educational opportunities for children in Africa, an issue of concern shared by the international community. Moreover, initiatives such as support for volunteer efforts of executives and employees and the establishment of the Sojitz Reconstruction and Education Fund totaling ¥500 million, show the Sojitz Group's strong commitment to supporting the reconstruction of areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The voluntary participation of executives and employees has been instrumental to the success of all initiatives.
Finally, I want to touch on the importance of communication with stakeholders. Social issues that need to be overcome are increasing around the world, including Japan. Moreover, changes such as agreement on the United Nations' Ruggie Framework and the introduction of legislation in the United States to address the problem of conflict minerals are moving at a faster pace. In light of this background, creating opportunities for communication with a wide range of stakeholders would be an effective way to further deepen the Sojitz Group's CSR initiatives. The Sojitz Group is capable of making a major contribution to resolving various problems in international society through its global business network. As is clear from this report, it also has the will to do so. I look forward to further progress.
Comment on Third-party Opinion
I sincerely thank Mr. Fujii for contributing his valuable opinion on the CSR initiatives outlined in our Annual Report 2011, as he did last year.
The Sojitz Group realizes that consideration for society and the environment is essential for sustainable growth, and therefore conducts CSR initiatives as a management priority. For the year ended March 31, 2011, we continued to focus on our four CSR priority themes. We took decisive steps based on the points Mr. Fujii raised in the previous year, including strengthening communication with suppliers through a survey as part of our promotion of CSR supply chain management. His comments regarding our support of reconstruction of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, a pressing CSR issue, were also encouraging. We intend to continue these efforts.
To maintain trust in the rapidly changing environment that surrounds us, it will be more important than ever to remain abreast of the expectations and demands of international society and to incorporate them in the Sojitz Group's business activities. While we continue working to improve disclosure, we will incrementally enhance how we communicate with stakeholders to deepen our CSR initiatives.
Executive Officer CSR Committee Chair Sojitz Corporation