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Hitachi's Social Innovation Business and Sustainability

In 2015, the United Nations announced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030, including goals for ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change. The SDGs are not just a blueprint but a comprehensive action plan for businesses, governments, and communities to support the shared prosperity of people and the planet. Organizations are expected to develop long-term frameworks and take ownership of this push for sustainability to realize the SDGs and create a better world.

Hitachi considers responding to these challenges to realize a sustainable society and improve quality of life to be the aim of our Social Innovation Business and a source of sustainable growth.

Accordingly, through innovative solutions and products from our Social Innovation Business, we will strive to create economic, social, and environmental value as part of our management strategy. We will also reduce negative social and environmental impacts resulting from our business and seek a deeper understanding of business risks arising from social and environmental changes to ensure greater robustness against them.

Along the way, in response to rising interest in corporate ESG initiatives, we will proactively disclose information to our stakeholders about our efforts toward achieving these SDGs.

Identifying Key Social Challenges

In fiscal 2017 Executive Sustainability Committee meetings chaired by President and CEO Toshiaki Higashihara, the committee members considered the 17 SDGs, and the opportunities and risks they represented, and identified the 11 Goals that pose the most important social challenges for Hitachi: 5 Goals where Hitachi can make significant impact through its business strategy, and 6 additional Goals relevant to its corporate commitment to society, cutting across all areas of business and management strategy to affect Hitachi's very sustainability as a company.

Embracing the belief that Hitachi can contribute broadly to the achievement of the SDGs through a wide range of business activities, the company is also investigating options for supporting the remaining six Goals in the short to medium term. We are committed to supporting efforts to reach all SDGs, both directly and indirectly, especially in terms of the interaction and interdependence between them.

Corporate Commitment Business Strategy

Dialogue on Sustainability Strategy

In March 2018 a European Stakeholder Dialogue on the subject of “Hitachi's Sustainability Strategy” was held in Brussel, Belgium with 18 participants from international organizations, NGOs, sustainably advanced companies, and other groups. Yukiko Araki, executive general manager of the Sustainability Promotion Division, spoke at the event about the 11 SDGs that pose the most important social challenges for Hitachi. We received a number of constructive comments and suggestions from attendees and will share them with our corporate divisions, BUs, and key Group companies to ensure that they are reflected in our initiatives and further enhance cooperation in setting specific key performance indicators (KPIs).

Comments and Suggestions from the Stakeholder Dialogue

  • Hitachi's information and communication technologies could be a key driver for achieving the SDGs.
  • Though Hitachi is a B2B company, it needs to understand how its technologies are used by and for end users.
  • Awareness of which SDGs a product will help achieve from the product planning stage makes a difference and gives Hitachi a competitive edge.
  • Hitachi must rank its target SDGs by priority and incorporate its sustainability strategy into its global management strategy.
  • Further external communication is required to specifically explain how Hitachi's Social Innovation Business will help achieve the SDGs.

Road Map for Achieving the SDGs

Creating a sustainable society will make sustainable growth possible for Hitachi too. Though we are mostly known for B2B (business to business) activities, our Social Innovation Business is intrinsically rooted in B2S (business to society). All our products and services are closely linked to social sustainability, and we aim to establish a global position as a B2S company through efforts to help achieve the SDGs.

In fiscal 2017, Hitachi officially launched activities intended to make a concrete contribution toward the SDGs. In phase 1, we began helping our business units and Group companies deepen their understanding of sustainability and the SDGs, and sustainability workshops were held for the Water, Energy Solutions, and Healthcare Business Units. In February 2018, we held a sustainability symposium, inviting as guest speaker Mr. Toshio Arima, chairman of the board, Global Compact Network Japan. The symposium was attended by about 130 employees and directors, including President Higashihara. We also launched a sustainability newsletter in an effort to promote awareness of SDG initiatives. In phase 2, the Sustainability Promotion Division worked with the planning divisions of business units and key Group companies to clarify how their businesses are linked to the SDGs in terms of opportunity and risk.

In phase 3, starting in fiscal 2018, Hitachi will seek new business opportunities emerging from social challenges. By setting specific quantitative KPIs for social and environmental values provided by our Social Innovation Business, we will monitor progress to achieve further business development. Sustainability initiatives already launched include a requirement to describe “factors allowing a contribution to meeting the SDGs” on the internal application form for a business startup. We are determined to reflect our sustainability initiatives in our next Mid-term Management Plan. Hitachi believes that its efforts toward achieving the SDGs and sustainability will enable the company to grow.

We launched Phase 1 of this initiative in fiscal 2017 with the aim of increasing understanding of sustainability and the SDGs through CEO messages, symposiums, workshops, newsletters, and other communication tools. In Phase 2, which began in the same fiscal year, we worked with our business units, major Group companies, and other key divisions to examine how our core businesses are linked to each SDG in terms of opportunity and risk. In Phase 3, starting in fiscal 2018, we will seek new business opportunities emerging from social challenges. These sustainability initiatives will be part of our next mid- and long-term management plans, as we believe that our efforts toward achieving the SDGs and sustainability through resolving social issues will enable our companies and business to grow. We will continue to make efforts toward the goals in tandem with our business units, major Group companies, corporate-related divisions, and business sites around the world.