We will continue to meet the expectations of our stakeholders by improving sustainability and increasing our corporate value.
Both as a global society and as a species reliant on the natural systems of our planet, we humans are currently confronting a range of challenges. Challenges to the natural systems that support us include an increase in the number of natural disasters related to climate change, water and food shortages, and decreasing biodiversity. As a society, meanwhile, we are also dealing with the negative impacts of economic growth and globalization, such as expanding economic disparities and poverty, issues related to human rights, and an increase in manmade environmental pollution, with all its attendant health and economic impacts. These problems are closely related to the growing populations and rapid economic growth we see mainly taking place in emerging economies, but their effects play out beyond national borders, making it difficult for national governments or international organizations to implement fully effective countermeasures. It is therefore urgently incumbent upon humankind to solve these problems and create a more sustainable society and global environment.
Against this background, companies are taking on more important roles and having a greater effect on societal outcomes. Companies with sufficient capital, talented human resources, innovation-producing technologies, and the ability to conduct business on a global scale are now expected to take on more responsibility and offer specific solutions to the many problems we face. Investors and customers therefore consider measures taken to promote sustainability when evaluating a company’s business opportunities as well as possible risks. In other words, stakeholders are paying more attention to the details and extent of sustainability engagement by corporations when making investment and transaction decisions. In line with this new trend, I believe it is critical for us to make efforts toward greater sustainability and to proactively disclose the details and results of our ESG* efforts. We should do this both to fulfill our important responsibilities as a corporate citizen as well as to enhance our corporate value as the Ricoh Group.
*ESG stands for environmental, social and governance.
The Ricoh Group is in a position to make tremendous contributions to protecting the global environment by implementing measures against climate change and improving resource productivity through its business activities. In order to enhance our sustainable environmental management, which means making the growth of our business compatible with environmental conservation, we are actively developing environmentally oriented businesses. As part of this effort, we will launch the new RICOH Eco Business Development Center in Gotemba City, Shizuoka in 2015, thereby further accelerating the development of our environmental technologies and businesses. At the development center, we will conduct trial studies of environmental technologies, develop reuse and recycling technologies, and implement and optimize these technologies to create new businesses that extend beyond the boundaries of our conventional business domains. By developing businesses in the energy and other sectors to help our customers implement their own environmental measures, we will contribute to the creation of a sustainable society.
The Ricoh Group has also been proactively supporting international initiatives, not only to contribute to greater sustainability through our business operations but also to help deepen public interest in sustainability issues and broaden the conversation. In 2014, for example, we endorsed the World Bank’s initiative to support carbon pricing and became a signatory to the Trillion Tonne Communiqué announced at the UN Climate Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York. We also joined our voice to those insisting on the importance of enhancing anti-climate change measures and limiting the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius.
Companies are these days required to assume a broader range of responsibilities with regard to their business activities. This means, for example, ensuring social responsibilities are fulfilled across entire—increasingly globalized—Supply chains. For the Ricoh Group, this includes ensuring the occupational health and safety of workers at our suppliers and addressing the issues of conflict minerals and human rights abuses such as the use of child labor. As part of this effort, the Ricoh Group in 2002 joined the UN Global Compact ahead of other Japanese companies and established the Ricoh Group CSR Charter and Code of Conduct incorporating the 10 principles of the international initiative. Since establishing these internal norms, we have been conducting CSR activities across our value chain, prioritizing the themes of “Integrity in Corporate Activities,” “Harmony with the Environment,” “Respect for People,” and “Harmony with Society.”
It is also essential to enhance our corporate governance in order to maintain sustainable growth and increase our corporate value on a medium- to long-term basis while contributing to the protection of the global environment and fulfilling our CSR. As a company that conducts business on a global scale, we are committed to nurturing a corporate culture that encourages employees to act ethically and with a strong sense of mission in meeting the needs of customers and to ensuring transparent management and fair decision-making. In this regard, the adoption of the corporate auditor system has helped us increase the effectiveness of the auditing and monitoring functions fulfilled by auditors. Moreover, we are enhancing the management oversight function of the Board of Directors by implementing appropriate measures such as appointing outside directors.
The Ricoh Group has developed a new slogan aimed at encouraging all employees to make concerted efforts to enhance sustainability: “Driving Sustainability for Our Future.” It was developed to reflect our strong commitment to contributing to the creation of a sustainable society by creating and providing new value through our business operations. Inspired by this slogan, the Ricoh Group will proactively work to increase sustainability, thereby achieving the growth of its businesses, boosting its corporate value, and consistently meeting the expectations of all stakeholders.