Hitachi Solutions, Ltd.

Contributing to Social Innovation

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Hitachi Solutions starts with understanding society's expectations and finding ways to meet them. As a way to engage in dialogue with our stakeholders, we organize roundtable discussions regarding our CSR.

CSR Communication: Consulting an Expert

In the face of today's recessionary conditions, corporations must examine their roles and responsibilities and take action, based on a social vision for the future. We asked Kumi Fujisawa, vice president of the private think tank SophiaBank, to talk about CSR and provide feedback on Hitachi Solutions' efforts.

Sustainable Corporate Activities for Tomorrow's Socioeconomic Conditions

Interviewer: Yasutaka Ando, Hitachi Solutions
Ando: The world is changing quickly today, following the financial crisis of the century. Will we see a shift to a new socio-economic system, away from traditional finance-driven economic systems? As someone who is widely involved in both the financial industry and driving social change, what are your thoughts on world trends today?

Fujisawa: I consider the recent financial crisis to be a major warning to humanity. It was a reminder that, if we want to keep the earth livable for humans, then we have to fundamentally reexamine what we are doing. Finance can only function well if people evolve in the right direction. The financial crisis is a reflection of people's greed and caring only about their own happiness.

This is true not only for financial issues, but for environmental problems as well. The development and manufacturing of goods based solely on the desire for convenience and the easy life is causing global environmental issues, and is paradoxically spoiling the living environment for humans. It is about time that we consider the true meaning of "world peace."

Ando: The warning seems to be even more relevant for corporations than it is for people, since it is corporations that shoulder economic activities. We see this in the global trend toward corporate social responsibility (CSR). What kind of views and ideas do corporations need to have?

Fujisawa: Individuals do not change that easily, even if you tell them to change. Ideally, politics should have a vision and take the initiative to change society, but in Japan, corporations also fulfill the role of schools and family. As a result, Japanese companies must display greater leadership and take more initiative in society.

You've heard of the phrase "think globally, act locally." Japanese companies have actually been doing this for a long time. They have managed to create a sustainable business model by operating within their scope of business while looking at the big picture and trying to work together to fill in the gray areas.

As part of an island nation, Japanese companies have naturally created sustainable organizations, partly because of the lack of outside interference. Japanese companies can disseminate their ideas and experience abroad, which will in and of itself have a positive social impact.

Kumi Fujisawa

Knowledge for a Human Age

Ando: So you are saying that Japanese companies should carefully examine their own behavior patterns, and raise their awareness in seeking to have a multifaceted, positive global impact?

Fujisawa: When I visited Rwanda, I sensed that there was a strong degree of admiration for Japan in Africa. Rwanda is a small landlocked isolated country, while Japan is a small country isolated by the sea. Both countries have scarce energy and food resources. Rwandans wanted to know how Japan was able to develop in spite of these disadvantages. They spoke about wanting to learn from Japan.

While production factors such as energy, resources, food and labor are of course needed, Japan's knowledge will be its competitive weapon in determining the nation's strength. The strength of Japan lies in the knowledge it takes to find solutions in spite of limited resources.

At the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2011, a session entitled "Shared Norms for the New Reality," meaning the post-financial-crisis reality, was held among persons from the political and financial worlds. Many people talked about the need to create a horizontal organization at the G12 or G16 level, and the need for such an organization to apply controls and develop tools.

However, a religious leader poured water over the notion, saying, "Controls and systems are entirely dependent on the people who use them. Unless people change, nothing will change. We are entering a human era." Overall, I feel that human asset development will be extremely critical to bringing back a sense of optimism to the 21st century.

In that respect, I feel that there is a certain continuity in what Hitachi Solutions is doing. The company employs many systems engineers who develop IT infrastructure, and so it values the importance of developing people. On top of that, the company sells human asset management systems that help to develop people. All these things are connected.

In my mind, I associate Hitachi Solutions with human career management, and have a strong image of Hitachi Solutions as a company that looks after people. There is a lot of talk out there about CSR, but not so much talk about the "people" perspective.

Yasutaka Ando

Ando: Thank you. At Hitachi Solutions, we consider personal development to be a true barometer of enrichment, as far as developing human talent as the basis for economic growth. People grow and gain satisfaction when they acquire knowledge and the necessary resources to maintain an ideal lifestyle level and actively participate in the local community.

Corporations achieve growth by supporting people's lifestyles and social infrastructure, and running their businesses. IT and services are essential to the mutual growth of people and companies. We understand that we have a major obligation as a company that shoulders IT infrastructure. Hitachi Solutions pursues personal development both for the knowledge business which connects the company's intellectual assets and its people to make the most of our corporate knowledge and human asset development, which creates opportunities to develop the talents of our employees.

Contributing to Social Innovation

Ando: As a systems integrator, we also recognize that we must directly address issues that have arisen because of computerization, and take action to address these issues.

Fujisawa: Yes, the danger of IT is that when we integrate systems to achieve streamlining, it eliminates the processes that should be considered by the people who were once there. In the case of Japan, there are processes that have been tacitly communicated, and this has prevented mistakes from occurring.

If you only convey the answers or the indicators, then there can be instances where you do not know how to respond when a mistake arises and cannot grasp the basic issue. If users can fully understand the details of the process leading up to the indicators, then you can have IT that is sensitized to what people feel.

Ando: That is an issue that we as a company need to address.

Our philosophy as a think tank is to contribute to the development of a vibrant society where people can realize their diverse dreams and share many emotions. In this day and age, we consider CSR to be a way to create value through solutions that enable overall optimization, by accepting the diverse values held by our customers and society.

Fujisawa: At the Davos World Economic Forum in 2011, some of the participants suggested that CSR was an outdated term. They suggested that we were past the point of expecting companies to do something past the idea that companies have to give back to stakeholders just because they make a profit. The social aspect has changed significantly.

As global citizens, companies must develop a vision for society and the globe, and try to reshape society through their businesses. In that respect, Japanese companies have long been contributing to social innovation. I hope that employees of Japanese companies will say to the world, "We have long been doing what you are just now starting to discuss," and go out and make positive contributions to the world.

Ando: Thank you for your valuable comments and insight.

Kumi Fujisawa

Kumi Fujisawa

Vice President, SophiaBank, Vice President, Japan Social Entrepreneur Forum
Born in Osaka, Japan in 1967. Graduated from Osaka City University. Founded IFIS Ltd., Japan's first investment trust evaluation company. In addition to being an author and public speaker, she has appeared on 21st Century Business Class, an educational program on Japan's national public broadcaster, NHK. Her books include Datsu: Kazoku Keiei no Kokoroe (Hints from Breaking Away from a Family-Run Business) and Naze, Goyokiki Bijinesu-ga Nobiteirunoka (Why Face-to-Face Order Taking Businesses are Growing).

Yasutaka Ando

Yasutaka Ando

General Manager, Corporate Brand & Communications Division,
Hitachi Solutions, Ltd.