| ||name: Teruo Masaki|
company: Sony Group
type of activity: Group General Counsel of Sony Corporation
Sony, one of the world's foremost companies in the areas of consumer and industrial electronics and entertainment, has a long history of systematic endeavours to advance environmental performance. Today, the corporation has a worldwide organisational infrastructure based on tried and true managerial systems to achieve environmental goals: driving, co-ordinating and, most important, disseminating learning from environmental improvement efforts; leadership prioritising; clear targets for improvements; research and development focus; educational programmes; an Environmental Award program; data management systems; and extensive involvement and leadership within industry and government networks.
Sony recognises that its business decisions need to give due consideration to the interests of its various stakeholders. As part of a dialogue with its stakeholders, on June 2004, Sony invited one of the leading authorities in the CSR field, Mr. John Elkington, Chairman ofSustainAbility,to talk with Mr. Teruo Masaki, Group General Counsel of Sony Corporation. What we publish hereafter is an extract of this conversation. We thank Sony and Mr. Elkington for giving YXC the opportunity of editing an imaginary interview with Mr. Masaki.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication "Making Good Business Sense" by Lord Holme and Richard Watts, gives the following definition of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): "Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large". What are Sony’s views about this increasingly important issue?
The core responsibility of the Sony Group to society is to pursue enhancement of corporate value through innovation and sound business practices. The Sony Group recognises that its businesses have direct and indirect impact on the societies in which it operates. Sound business practices require that business decisions give due consideration to the interests of Sony stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, local communities and other organisations.
Sony’s engagement in environmental issues is well-known: since 1994, the group publishes environmental reports on regular base. What about CSR?
We recognise the importance of corporations acknowledging accountability for their social responsibilities, and in 2002, we published the Sony Social & Environmental Report that began to cover issues concerning our interactions with people. In 2003, we added more information about CSR and published the report under the new title CSR Report. This report refers to international standards and guidelines related to social and environmental activity reporting.
What are, practically, the actions promoted by the group in this direction?
We have expanded and renamed our environmental group, which is now Corporate Social & Environmental Affairs. Corporate Risk Management Group and Corporate Social & Environmental Affairs together with Corporate Legal Group and Personal Information Management Group make up the Compliance Office. But what we do within this office is not just compliance in the narrow sense, because compliance assumes there are formal external rules to comply with. Even when there are no specific rules, the Sony Group Code of Conduct, which we adopted in May 2003, may well cover such areas. Aside from standards regarding legal and regulatory compliance, this code sets out Sony's basic standards regarding business integrity, respect for human rights, disclosure of information, intellectual property and environmental conservation.
What specific measures and employee training are done to prevent corporate malfeasance? And what is done to promote communication inside the company to support sound corporate activities?
In fiscal 2003, we established global Compliance Hotline systems and set up Compliance Offices in the Americas, Europe, Japan, East Asia and other areas, thus laying the foundations for a compliance system exercising control across the entire Sony Group.
What is the role of the Compliance Office?
Ethical business conduct and compliance with applicable laws and regulations are fundamental for a company to fulfil its social responsibilities. Dedicated teams within Sony concerned with issues such as product safety and environmental conservation have always worked to ensure full legal and regulatory compliance within their areas of responsibility. Sony’s Compliance Office establishes compliance policies and procedures throughout the Sony Group and performs crisis management functions.
In March 2003, Sony Corporation established an office responsible for corporate social responsibility (CSR) within the Compliance Office to formulate policies concerning the social responsibilities of the company, implement them throughout the Sony Group and communicate with stakeholders.
What about the Sony Code of Conduct?
Adopted in May 2003, the Sony Group Code of Conduct sets the basic internal standards to be observed by all directors, officers and employees of the Sony Group in order to further strengthen the corporate governance, business ethics and compliance systems throughout the entire Sony Group. This Code of Conduct sets out, in addition to legal and regulatory compliance standards, the Sony Group's basic policies concerning ethical business practices and activities, including respect for human rights, safety of products and services, environmental conservation and information disclosure.
The Sony Group Code of Conduct refers to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the United Nations Global Compact and the Universal Declaration and the Fundamental Human Rights Conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
Sony is disseminating the Sony Group Code of Conduct to all employees of the Sony Group, led by each regional compliance office. In Japan and Europe, booklets explaining its contents have been prepared and distributed to employees. The Sony Group Code of Conduct is also accessible to employees on the intranet websites of the individual Sony Group companies.
In the future, compliance training focused on raising awareness of the Sony Group Code of Conduct will be conducted in stages throughout the Sony Group, to promote a thorough understanding of the meaning and importance of compliance.
And your last comment for us is...
I would like to quote Mr. Kunitake Ando, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sony, who recently declared: “There can be no prosperity for a company that does not consider the environment and society.”