Sony will provide educational content in a bid to eliminate differences in education available to individual students. It also joined RE100, switching to 100% renewable energy for all business operations by 2040.
Sony held its first ESG press conference on September 10, a follow-up to the firm’s Third Mid-Term Management Plan (FY2018-20) announced on May 22. While explaining the plan and corporate policy in May, president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida mentioned his awareness of the dangers facing management, the need for humility, and the importance of long-term strategies and their driving initiatives, such as ESG. At the September ESG press conference he revealed a number of concrete initiatives.
Sony transitioned to a committee-based management organization in 2003 as a pioneer in developing improved systems for corporate governance. In 2010 it announced a plan to reduce its environmental footprint to zero, was the first Japanese corporation to receive certification for Science-Based Targets (SBTs), and implemented other measures that made it a recognized leader in the environmental field.
Now the company is turning its attention to social issues.
One in seven children faces severe hardship
Sony noted the difference in education provided to children. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, one in seven Japanese children faces severe hardship, and poorer educational performance among children in financially adverse circumstances has become a social issue.
The company began providing its experiential education program to students in September, featuring computer programming, a robot-equipped student learning kit, and other items to make it possible to study science, and engineering. The system is provided in collaboration with educational institutions and regional non-profit organizations (NPO) for use in after-school classes and community children’s groups. While it was originally only available in the extended Tokyo region, Sony plans to expand the supported area from fiscal 2019, including overseas sites.
The company started offering educational programs to science museums, educational institutions, and other organizations in Japan from 2014, currently serving some 270,000 people a year, according to a Sony official. Management hopes to further expand the field, eventually developing education into another pillar of corporate business.
Environmental plans are also being accelerated. In September, Sony joined the RE100 organization established by The Climate Group, an international non-government organization (NGO), and has established a target of switching to 100% renewable energy for business activities by 2040. In Japan, business sites are being equipped with solar panels, with an intercompany electricity transfer system used to share generated power between them as needed. Sony executive vice president and corporate executive officer Shiro Kambe explained that through collaboration with various other organizations, the company hopes to reduce renewable energy procurement costs down to the level of Europe or the US.
Sony reported a consolidated operating income of 734.9 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 2018, marking a new profit high for the first time in two decades. Their success with ESG will determine if it can maintain that growth.