Hitachi Solutions, Ltd.

For successful environmental activities in cooperation with NPO

Communication: Consulting an Expert

Opinion Exchange Meeting: "Thinking about Hitachi Solutions' Environmental Activities"

Hitachi Solutions' CSR starts with seeking to understand exactly what society needs from us, and responding to that need. Aiming to achieve more active communication with our stakeholders, we held a round-table meeting focused on Hitachi Solutions' environmental activities. Various leaders from the NPOs who advise us in Tokyo Greenship Action joined us in the discussion.

Q  :  First, tell us what ideas and requests you have for Hitachi Solutions' local woodland and greenery conservation activities.

Mr. Kurachi  :  I think Tokyo Greenship Action is a great initiative for a company's CSR program. Being NPOs, we try to organize events that are not just about using nature for recreation but give company workers a sense that they're achieving something.

Mr. Chigira  :  My impression of Hitachi Solutions is that they have a firm, and growing, environmental policy. They've held cleanups in Aomono-Yokocho, and rice harvesting in Yokosawairi, among others.

Mr. Sonoda  :  I want us to be able to take in more volunteers. To do that we have to change Tokyo Greenship's organizational structure, about which we're now consulting with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. I hope that together we can discuss ways to ramp up our initiative.

Mr. Ino  :  I've witnessed firsthand how working for something creates in people a growing interest in new things. This year, Hitachi Solutions put together a "Rice Harvest Support Squad" as a response to requests for more rice harvesting outside of Tokyo Greenship events.

Q  :  How do you perceive Hitachi Solutions' social contribution activities?

Tsuyuki  :  Hitachi Solutions' activities for local woodland and greenery conservation are volunteer-based and have a vital following. Participants feel a sense of accomplishment through their labors, and are able to contribute to environmental protection in the process. That is why over half of them have participated more than once. The veteran volunteers are now engaging in new initiatives. I want more people who have yet to participate, or be encouraged to participate, to experience these events.

Ohashi  :  We recruit volunteers by posting announcements to employees on the company's intranet bulletin board and holding information meetings. With the amount of deskwork employees have, it's a real struggle getting them to become interested enough to participate. Making them feel motivated is a matter of trial and error, but the most effective strategy has been participant testimonies. The vast majority of responses are optimistic, with many saying that they had a truly positive experience and that others should participate. We post these comments on the internal homepage.

Q  :  Please tell us about your perspective as an employee participating in these activities.

Jinno  :  My initial motive for participating was to keep from getting overweight. The first time I worked with a hand-saw to thin out the forest I struggled to keep my breath and was sore for two or three days after. However, I felt really good when the job was finished, like I had done something meaningful, which made me want go again. Now I participate because I want to observe how the woodlands will change as a result of our thinning them.

Fujimaki  :  I was invited and went for the first time without knowing what I was getting into, but when we actually got to work I thought to myself, "This isn't so bad after all." Now I participate regularly. I've even invited one of my own friends, who is now a regular participant too. That is how the group of volunteers has been growing. I was impressed when I saw how much weeding we got done when working together as a large group, compared to how little I could do on my own.

Q  :  Lastly, in what ways should NPOs and businesses work together to sustainably continue their environmental conservation activities?

Mr. Kurachi  :  I've learned academically that green zone maintenance is effective for carbon sequestration and for mitigating global warming. I think Hitachi Solutions is nearing the end of the "experiential learning" stage of its activities. The next step is to contribute to solving environmental problems. Some people respond negatively to the idea of cutting down trees, but to capture carbon you have to cut down old trees and plant new ones. I think this task will turn into a larger undertaking going forward.

Mr. Sonoda  :  I hope Hitachi Solutions' employees will exercise more leadership. They have different organizational approaches and considerations than an NPO, and are more secure in terms of physical safety. If they do, it will be a new stage of growth for Tokyo Greenship.

Mr. Chigira  :  I think that in terms of the level of activities, there are two kinds: the level of the individual employees, and the company's initiative as a whole. When employees make a certain request, such as "We want to cut thicker trees," we can plan such an event accordingly. Some of our events have included children, so we're prepared to create a program that matches the participants, and that will even allow family's to safely participate.

Usumi  :  I would like adults to participate by themselves. Having to keep an eye on children or watching children as they engage in their own activities puts a limit on adults' personal experiences and how much gets done. I especially want people with the least opportunity to enjoy nature to come lose themselves in volunteering.

Q  :  How should Hitachi Solutions expand its environmental conservation activities in the future?

Nemoto  :  After hearing everyone's opinion today, I really feel it is important that we take it to the next step. In other words, shift from the simple conservation activities based on experiential learning to ones with pre-established targets. Companies and NPOs need to work together, including financially. If we could ultimately build a win-win relationship, our alliance will only get bigger.

Kagami  :  The preservation of biodiversity is a core objective in the Hitachi Group's environmental activities. Satoyama (rural countryside) and green zone conservation is as important a measure for biodiversity as it is for CO2 reduction and the reuse of resources in business practice. In that sense, we need to continue to strengthen our alliance with NPOs.

Mr. Kurachi  :  At Otani, all of the tools we use for school children who come for hands-on learning are purchased with Greenship money. Tools use up money because they are non-durable goods. Perhaps companies could financially support our activities, and in return their employees could participate whenever they like. Forming a relationship like that would sustain our work for a long time.

Mr. Sonoda  :  Many of the Greenship volunteer leaders are advanced in years. We would really appreciate companies supporting us, in the form of scholarships for example, to train young leaders. Another good idea would be if companies bought woodland property to conduct their own fieldwork.

Nagano  :  In order to step up our social contribution activities too, I think it is critical that we work together with NPOs while thinking independently about a number of things. Based on our corporate credo, to what extent do we want to focus on environmental conservation activities? What aspects of those activities do we want to promote? And how should we develop them as part of our corporate culture? I think we all learned from today's meeting that there are many ways to get involved. We had a very fulfilling exchange of opinions today. I hope to receive more of your guidance and cooperation as we continue to expand these activities. Thank you for your time.

CSR Communication