Regardless of whether there is a law on Corporate Social Responsibility or not, a company's long-term financial success goes hand in hand with its record on social responsibility, environmental stewardship and corporate ethics. And this is exactly what Canon India believes in. The Japan-based company takes pride in not only bringing quality products to the market but also takes the responsibility for sustainable development of society it operates in. In a conversation with Bureaucracy Today, Canon India President and Chief Executive Officer Kazutada Kobayashi speaks about the company’s business and its continuous endeavour to make a positive impact on society and the environment.
Canon India believes in dedicated commitment to the community. The company’s corporate philosophy of Kyosei, a Japanese word which means living and working together for the common good, comes foremost in its way of working and day-to-day operations.
“However,” Canon India President and Chief Executive Officer Kazutada Kobayashi says, “our definition of the word Kyosei is much broader and encompasses all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future. Moving forward with this philosophy, we continuously endeavour to make a positive impact on society and the environment. We would like all the people – our employees, customers and partners – to take pride in their association with us.”
Kobayashi is personally attached to all the CSR endeavours of Canon India. He continuously encourages all his employees to take some time out of their lives for adding value to the lives of the less privileged.
In January 2012, the company established the Canon Group CSR Activity Policy which outlines its commitment to its CSR efforts in global and local communities by effectively leveraging the firm’s advanced technological strengths, global business deployment and diverse, specialized human resources.
MAJOR CSR PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN
The Canon India President says, “As a responsible business, we believe sustained and effective CSR projects can lead to impactful results. In line with this thought process, we created our CSR initiative, Adopt a village, where we focus on the development of four core pillars of our CSR policy, including Eye Care, Education, Environment and Empowerment.”
The company has adopted four villages – Sol Gohalia village in West Bengal, Ferozepur Namak village in Haryana, Maharaja Katte village in Karnataka and Karanjoti village in Maharashtra. “All our four adopted villages across the country are undergoing a positive transformation and the progress being witnessed by these villages is an award for us at Canon India. In the course of five years of our intervention in the CSR initiative, we are working towards building a learned and self-sustainable village. Under the aegis of empowerment, we have initiated vocational training to support skill development among villagers and empower them for a brighter tomorrow. Here, we are organising new laptops and e-learning system along with trained faculty. As an extension of empowerment, we have started another avenue of constructive outreach, with a partnership with SOS Children’s village across India. Through this association, we support the educational and overall development of children in these villages under an exclusive initiative,” the corporate honcho says.
The company established sustainable eye care facilities called ‘Vision Centres’ across the adopted villages. The Vision Centres support the screening of patients, leading to the provision of spectacles and if needed refers the patients to the base hospital for surgeries. “Our commitment towards environmental conservation continues with numerous tree plantation drives in the adopted villages. As an initiative to promote a green Earth, we have set up solar panels in some of the schools in the adopted villages, thereby solving the problem of electricity in classrooms,” Kobayashi says.
In the area of education, the company focussed on improving enrolment of children in the school and delivering quality education within the age group of 6-14 years. Some of the infrastructural developments undertaken include the establishment of an activity resource centre equipped with education aids and a library for children, ground levelling in the school premises and provision of clean drinking water.
PROFIT MAKING VIS-A-VIS SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES
For Kobayashi, corporate social responsibility and profits are not the conflicting goals. “Profit making and social responsibilities are two different activities, where both hold their own significance. I believe responsible corporates, along with their growth, are also focused on the overall development of society,” the CEO articulates.
He further elaborates, “Social endeavours require the right sentiments for leaving a long-lasting impact on the community.”
And at the same time, Kobayashi cautions, “The difference between ideation and execution needs to be as minimum as possible. It is important to ensure that the programmes witness actual development and active participation by all members of the organization and the communities involved.”
Replying to a query on whether there is the difference between the Asian and Western companies in terms of their approach towards CSR, Kobayashi, who has been in leadership roles in Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Germany before taking over Canon India in January 2012, says, “CSR is not just a mandate enforced by company policy but a sentiment that all professionals must show as their duty towards their surroundings. It is hence not something which differs from country to country, but individual to individual instead.”
He says, “In my experience, Indian communities are very close knit. The thought of helping one another and contributing to the common good is a part of being for most people. Hence, designing and implementing our CSR programmes here gives us further support with the level of enthusiasm we receive from our employees to participate in the same.”