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In May 2013, we adopted the Hitachi Group Human Rights Policy to supplement the Hitachi Group Codes of Conduct, drawn up in fiscal 2010. In this policy, we clarify our understanding of human rights as being, at a minimum, those outlined in the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This policy shapes Hitachi's approach to meeting the responsibility to respect human rights, including implementing human rights due diligence*1 in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,*2 providing appropriate education to employees, adhering to laws and regulations in all the regions and countries where we operate, and seeking ways to honor the principles of international human rights when faced with conflicts between internationally recognized human rights standards and national laws.
In fiscal 2014, Hitachi added the perspective of business and human rights to its existing structures and policies and developed guidelines on human rights due diligence that explain procedures for everyday business practices. Based on these guidelines, we initiated human rights due diligence in two divisions—procurement in fiscal 2015 and human resources in fiscal 2016—assessing, prioritizing, and considering measures to reduce the human rights risks with which Group employees are likely to be confronted.
Hitachi, Ltd. established the Corporate Human Rights Promotion Committee in fiscal 1981 to gauge the impact of business activities on stakeholders' human rights and to deliberate on mechanisms and policies for preventing human rights violations. The executive officer in charge of CSR chairs this body, whose members include representatives from sales, procurement, human capital, CSR, and other corporate units. Hitachi is improving its Group-wide human rights awareness based on the guidelines discussed and written by the Corporate Human Rights Promotion Committee. Information from these deliberations is shared with all employees through business unit and business site committees, led by business unit presidents and division heads. Business units provide consultation services through which employees can seek consultation on issues such as sexual harassment and are working to ensure that those coming forward are treated with respect and dignity.
In a practice launched in fiscal 2014, we distribute a human rights message by Representative Executive Officer, President, and CEO Toshiaki Higashihara every year on December 10, Human Rights Day. In fiscal 2016, approximately 156,000 executives and employees at Hitachi, Ltd. and Group companies in and outside Japan received an e-mail message regarding global trends in human rights, Hitachi's human rights policy and activities, and the importance of individual employees respecting human rights in their work.
A scene from the officer training session.
Hitachi conducts regular group training and seminars and uses videos to educate employees in each business unit and Group company. The target is for each employee to attend these sessions at least once every three years (equivalent to a yearly participation rate of 33.3%). In fiscal 2016, the participation rate came to 41.9% at Hitachi, Ltd. and 48.4% among Group companies. We launched an e-learning program on business and human rights in October 2016, in which approximately 186,000 Group executives and employees in Japan and elsewhere had participated by March 2017. Using educational materials developed in line with the Hitachi Group Human Rights Policy, adopted in May 2013, the program aims to ensure that employees understand Hitachi's human rights policy and act accordingly. In accordance with these goals, the training is provided to all employees once every three years on average and regularly revised based on human rights trends worldwide.
In July 2016, 30 executive officers from Hitachi, Ltd. participated in an officer training session on the theme of human rights challenges for global businesses led by Shigeyuki Kumisaka, president of the Buraku Liberation League, which is fighting for the rights of the descendants of former outcast communities. Touching on several cases, Kumisaka discussed the human rights situation in Japan and the challenges that must be overcome to solve the global immigration issue as Hitachi's business becomes increasingly globalized.
In our Hitachi Group Human Rights Policy, we pledged to develop mechanisms for and to continue the implementation of human rights due diligence. Toward that end, in fiscal 2013 some business units launched pilot programs for human rights due diligence to identify key issues that need to be clarified for Group-wide implementation while also analyzing and evaluating human rights risks in six ASEAN countries. Based on the results of these pilot programs, in fiscal 2014 we developed a document offering guidelines for implementing human rights due diligence in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Shift.
In fiscal 2015, we initiated human rights due diligence in the procurement divisions, whose activities are at risk of negatively impacting the human rights of workers in the supply chain and local communities. In fiscal 2016, we incorporated the results of human rights due diligence into the revision of our CSR procurement guidelines for suppliers and in other specific initiatives.
Fiscal 2016 also saw the launch of human rights due diligence for human resources divisions at Hitachi. The operations in those divisions touch on many issues connected to human rights for employees, including working hours, employee treatment, and health and safety. The human resources and CSR divisions at Hitachi, Ltd. also played a central role in a working group that was formed to assess and prioritize human rights risks for employees and explore mitigation strategies. The group included CSR representatives from two business units, three Group companies, and four regional headquarters outside Japan. It also investigated grievance mechanisms, analyzing existing procedures and exploring ideas for improvement. Starting from fiscal 2017, Hitachi will begin implementing specific human resources initiatives based on the results of human rights due diligence in fiscal 2016.
The Hitachi Group Codes of Conduct clearly express Hitachi's firm stance against the use of child labor or forced labor either in Group companies or along our supply chain. The company president's human rights message for fiscal 2016 also addressed the issues of forced labor and human trafficking. Recognizing the growing risks of forced labor amid the ongoing globalization of business, Hitachi also developed an e-learning program for all Group executives and employees on the subject of human rights. The program draws on specific case studies to convey the importance of preventing forced labor and human trafficking problems before they occur.
Hitachi's CSR procurement guidelines for suppliers also clearly forbid the use of child labor or forced labor. As part of our efforts to raise awareness all along the supply chain, these guidelines are distributed to tier 1 suppliers of business units and Group companies. In fiscal 2016, a four-part webinar*1 series was also held for employees responsible for procurement and human resources in Southeast Asia, where the risk of forced labor is expected to be higher. Speakers from nongovernmental organizations and businesses implementing advanced countermeasures were invited to lead the webinars, each of which was attended by an average of 45 people.
All of these initiatives designed to prevent any instance of the "modern slavery of forced labor and human trafficking either within Group companies or along our supply chain are covered in the statement published by Hitachi, Ltd. in accordance with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015.