Last week I was in Tokyo, Japan to participate in the Tokyo Marathon 2019 as well as meet with possible partners for my work in impacting Africa. I was really interested in visiting Japanese companies to glimpse just how exactly they are implementing and benefitting from sustainable development practices.
It did not disappoint. I was very fortunate to be able to visit Fujitsu, a leading global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company. The company offers a full range of technology products, solutions and services with approximately 140,000 employees who support customers in more than 100 countries. The mission of the company is to use their experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of societies through their customers.
One big reason for my pulsating excitement was the fact that Fujitsu has been chosen for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World), the world's leading Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) index, for 19th time. This means that they are doing something special in regard to sustainable business to improve performance and efficiency at lower costs- and I needed to understand it.
Sustainability as “business unusual” in Fujitsu
The management shared with me their short-, medium-, and long-term sustainability goals. This was an indicator that they have taken sustainability to the next level by embedding the concept in their business model as “business unusual” – something that most corporates in Kenya are yet to embrace.
The Agenda 2030, that is, the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement and the Circular Economy are the key components and guides of the Fujitsu environmental strategy.
For instance, one of the medium- to long-term goals of the company is to become net zero CO2 emitters by the year 2050 Fujitsu has also joined the RE100 with the goal to use 100% renewable energy electricity its locations by 2050- and with an intermediate goal of achieving 40% use of renewables by 2030. Other areas of focus include mitigating environmental impact through efficient water consumption, reduction of chemical pollutant release, and cutting down waste from the company’s operations. Back home, we see some universities adopting these technologies and even a green, solar powered new port-berth coming up. These endeavors are, however, one in a dozen.
Sustainability effects felt beyond Fujitsu
Other initiatives by Fujitsu include helping in the expansion of renewable energy deployment in Japan through a collaboration between the company, University of Chester in UK and the city of Kawasaki. The company is also working with high-performance computing (HPC) to develop high-speed, extremely precise real-time rainfall monitoring to help in the reduction of damage and economic losses from extreme downpours as part of SDG 13 on climate action. Smart mobility and Smart factories are also in the agenda of the company, as they will result in reduced carbon footprint.
It is clear from the above that the sustainability journey of each company is different from one another; it is also true that there is no “one right solution” on sustainability. The best solution depends on the ambitions and stakes in each company. Reflecting on my visit at Fujitsu, here are three major observations that may be of use to all management teams to improve sustainability practices.
3 tips for management teams to improve corporate sustainability
Strategy is aligned with sustainability:Looking at the efforts on sustainability at Fujitsu, it is clear that sustainability is entrenched in the business model. If the contrary is the case, truly we will see a sustainability strategy that is fragile with no real commitment from top management as well as from employees, as it does not create win-win for both the organization and the stakeholders.
Engage from the top: The sustainability agenda needs to be from the top and there is no other way for it to succeed and to have buy-in in the organization. Fujitsu is speaking from the top. One eye-catching fact is that Masami Yamamoto Chairman, Fujitsu Ltd Is in the Executive Committee of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.
Engage your suppliers:There is need to have collaboration with the suppliers to ensure efficient sustainability practices. For instance, Fujitsu, has a goal to reduce CO2 emission in its supply chain. This will be achieved by requesting the first and second-tier business partners to implement CO2 reduction activities. The company has also instituted mechanisms to support its suppliers to enable them to achieve these objectives.
In sum, sustainability is a major challenge- one that matters beyond individual companies. The fact that more and more large companies are showing the way in terms of forward-thinking sustainability policies is a move in the right direction. We will need to create more awareness so that eventually the SMEs can help promote responses to climate change, creating a prosperous and sustainable world.