Interview with Serge Foucher, Sony
In this Enterprise 2020 interview with CSR Europe, Serge Foucher, Executive President for Sony Europe Ltd, discusses the company's environmental vision, stakeholder engagement, and women in leadership positions.
Serge Foucher has been with Sony in Germany since 1990. Prior to this assignment he held positions as deputy Managing Director of Sony France and Director of Finance of Louis Vuitton in Paris. He started his career at Winchester International in the USA and also had working experiences in Canada and Italy.
This interview is the third in a series of interviews on the future of responsible enterprise with business leaders from CSR Europe's member companies.
You can watch 5 short videos from the interview or read the summary below.
Part 1: On overall vision
Part 2: On stakeholders
Part 3: On trends
Part 4: On women in leadership positions
Part 5: On children
Kerstin Born: Sony Group's environmental vision based on green management aims at a more sustainable society by helping to prevent global warming, promoting resource conservation, and others. Can you describe progress made towards that vision? How do you feel it should be adated moving towards 2020?
We are always working in three main directions. One is the management of chemical substances, second is the recycling of our products, and third the protection of natural resources and our impact on the climate.
This is the reason why in Europe, for example, we were one of the founders of a recycling scheme called the European Recycling Platform together with three other shareholders.
The management of chemical substances is an extremely important point because inevitably at the end of the life of our product there is always a risk that some substances cannot be disposed properly. We have to minimize this type of risks and have set up a very strict procedures in order to control the chemical substances in our products.
The other point is the protection of natural resources and our impact on the climate. All our companies, particularly our factories, have yearly targets in terms of the use of water and all types of natural resources, and we are trying as much as possible to decrease our impact on the climate through a decrease of the CO2 emissions, using as much green electricity as possible, and increasing the energy efficiency of our products.
How do you engage current or future investors and customers into efforts in becoming a more sustainable company?
We try to clearly indicate to our consumers the environmental impacts of the products they buy. We have developed a communication concept of 3Ps (Planet, Product and Production), and through our website, we indicate our consumers what kind of efforts we have done.
We also explain to our investors the philosophy and policy of our company in terms of corporate social responsibility. We aim to let investors, customers - and all stakeholders - know what we do, and we listen to them as well. Listening to them permits us to integrate all of this in our future plans.
What are the current trends that you feel will impact most on Sony Europe? How will your products and services respond to these trends?
We are right in the middle of a very deep evolution as has maybe never existed before. We used to be an agricultural society, then we switched to an industrial society, and now we are in the middle of the information society, which has been boosted by digitalisation at the end of the 1990s and beginning of the 21st century. It is a fundamental element which influences our society.
In the past, there could have been a divide between the poor and the rich - the ones who have and the ones don't. Today, we are talking about the social divide. I think it is something we have to pay very much attention to. The information society is not only a society of entertainment. It is more than that: more and more, the information society permits to have access to health services, to all types of services. This is where there is the danger of divisions of the society between people who have access and people who do not have access, and you have several ways to have or not to have access.
First of all, there is the matter of education, of equipments, of infrastructure. But it is also a matter of product accessibility. Traditionally, electronic products were conceived assuming that everybody could have access to them. But then we realised that for any type of reason, either because of age, disability or any other reason, around 30-40% of the population might not necessarily be able to enjoy 100% of sophisticated products on the market, and we have to take this into consideration.
Some years ago, Sony led a working group with CSR Europe on the topic of women in leadership positions. What are your strategies and programmes in this area going forward?
It is a fact that if we look at executive level in the company, the proportion of women does not reflect the society today. It is something that we have to take into consideration, otherwise we run the risk of being completely disconnected from our customers or stakeholders in general.
We realised that, in spite of our will to increase the number of women at executive level, we don't necessarily have a sufficient number of applications from women - we don't naturally have 50%-50% men and women candidates every time we open major jobs for applications. Little by little, by adapting our communications, we manage to attract more and more applications from women. As a consequence, our ratio of women at management level and at executive level is increasing, but I must say it is a slow process - we find it sometimes too slow.
Imagine you are in 2020, and you are speaking to a class of schoolchildren. Taking into account your education programmes, what has had the most impact on these kids? What do you think will have changed for them?
Independently from the evolution of science, what we teach our children hopefully will be similar to what we were taught ourselves and to what children were taught 50 or 100 years ago... What I consider important to tell children is that in their life they have to find a way to contribute to the society. What can I do and what can I learn in order to somehow give back to the society what it has given me through my education?
I believe everybody can do that at their own level, whatever their profession is. I think it is one of the most important lessons of morality we have to give to our children. Contributing to the society and understanding that we have to share the wealth which is created, and we have to share it fairly. It does not mean everybody will be completely equal, but it has to be fairly shared.
- Read more about Sony's commitment
Interview by Kerstin Born
Edited by Perrine Cornu