With rapid globalization, human rights abuses by businesses operating in developing nations are becoming increasingly common. As a result, companies that are either knowingly or unknowingly involved find themselves in increasing danger of being ‘named and shamed'. Despite this, many of Hitachi’s business groups do not have the means to tackle these issues, and top management is in many cases unaware of such risks.
There is no denying that gender inequality still exists, even in Europe. Hitachi is also affected by this challenge, largely because of the fact that it is a technology-oriented and Japanese company.
Although, there is a certain level of understanding of these issues, there remains a barrier between words and concrete action.
The purpose of the ‘Human rights & diversity Tool Package' is to enhance Hitachi’s performance within these two areas. The initiative aims to help the various European business groups to address the issues, by providing a central platform with specific tools and guidance material.
Specifically, the package consists of four key sections:
• Concept (vision, targets, top management message)
• Awareness-raising (training, e-learning, presentations)
• Systems (networks, mentoring, supplier engagement etc).
The package is created by the European Corporate CSR team. It will become accessible on Hitachi’s European internal CSR website, and be available to all business groups and their employees across Europe.
Some expected outcomes include:
• Heightened awareness and understanding of human rights and diversity
• Both topics to be effectively integrated into the business strategy
• A genuinely more diversified and ethically-minded workplace
• Enhanced business innovation due to diversified thinking
• Increased external stakeholders' trust and company credibility
1. Top management buy-in, especially in a time of economic crisis
2. Effective integration of human rights and diversity into the business strategy
3. Ensuring that the Tool Package can be applied to all countries in Europe, despite differing legislation, culture and customs
4. Full understanding and usage/implementation of the Tool Package by all business groups
1. Creating a solid business case, explaining the Ruggie Framework movement, and increasing the focus on corporate human rights and diversity issues in the European political environment
2. Presenting the issues not merely as a matter of compliance, but as new business opportunities
3. Enabling customization of the Tool Package where necessary
The Tool Package was launched in July 2010. Hitachi Europe has already started implementing its action plan, which will be a best practice example to other Hitachi business groups in Europe. Additional tools are still under development.