Third Party Comments on CSR Communication Report 2017
Ms. Carolyn Schmidt
Program Director, ECOLOGIA
NGO Delegate, ISO 26000 Post Publication Organization Strategic Advisory Group
Graduate of University of Pennsylvania
The annual Sompo Holdings CSR Communication Report traditionally affirms the Group’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, explains key values and goals, and provides examples of their implementation. This year’s Report is extremely ambitious –explaining and enumerating a myriad of products and programs across the broad areas of “security, health and well-being”. Two major themes are dynamism – moving forward with new products and services – and management commitment to implementation of global CSR norms throughout the Group.
Progress in Deepening CSR
Some of the strongest sections of the report cover Sompo’s top leadership involvement in global policy advocacy in the areas of business action to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This includes a commitment at all levels of operation to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This commitment is made real through specific Group-wide initiatives such as the use of investment in public infrastructure and renewable energy, and documented reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within Sompo’s own operations. Note is taken of support for Sustainable Procurement. This is a vital step toward driving social responsibility throughout the value chain, incorporating environmental and social impacts, as well as the traditional business considerations of price and quality, into the core routine business decisions.
An important dimension of Social Responsibility is the realm of financing – how and where money is invested, how broadly does the investment and financing pattern follow the CSR activities, where is money kept, and to what extent are taxes paid. The section of the Report on global business expansion includes easy to read pie graphs showing amounts and percentages of ordinary income and underwriting income received, and corporate taxes paid, in different regions of the world where Sompo does business. Highlighting this aspect of corporate responsibility – payment of taxes commensurate with corporate income – is a bold and commendable move.
Incorporating Emerging Technologies
Sompo is putting considerable resources into supporting digital products, building on its existing strengths in the fields of insurance, data analysis, and risk management. Much of the change is driven by the need to grow in new directions in response to major ongoing trends, such as an aging population and climate change. This year’s Report highlights numerous activities, for example in expanding elder health care and in financing solar energy in the nuclear contaminated areas of Fukushima. The Report shows a rise in the use of emerging technologies: digital delivery for insurance products, drones to assess damage in particular geographic areas, monitoring and treatment of medical conditions, calculation of liability insurance for owners of autonomous cars, etc.
Responsiveness to Stakeholders; Attentiveness to Diversity
This commitment is manifest throughout the Report. For example, the provision of insurance to Doulas (assistants at childbirth) arose from suggestions by female employees. Language programs, the effort to hire non-Japanese employees, and attention to making the workplace supportive of all, regardless of gender, nationality or age, tap into the strength that can arise from diversity.
Web-Based CSR Report
This 2017 Report is the first to be fully web-based, as opposed to previous years’ Reports which were uploaded to the Web in .pdf format. Sompo is to be commended for taking this step toward making all of their information more accessible. There are a few areas in which this first-year effort should be fine-tuned in future years, however. First, a Report should be readable and cohesive, highlighting the key areas clearly to the reader/viewer, and indicating their relative importance. This Commenter recommends that in years to come, summaries of achievements in Organizational Governance - including the role of outside members of the Board of Directors, and external audits - be included in the text of the CSR Report itself, not only in links to the detailed information in the Annual Report. Also, the relative length of the different sections should be evaluated, to ensure balance between each of the Five Material issues and its related Case Studies.
As an American living in 2017, I am acutely aware how policies and tone set by the leadership carry down through all the different groups of people affected by them – for better or for worse. The leadership of Sompo is to be congratulated for maintaining their consistent support for social responsibility, and to manifesting it in many ways, one of which is in the thoughtfulness and respect they put into this annual CSR Report.
Response to the Third Party Comments
Chief Management Officer of Council for CSR Promotion
Response to the Third Party Comments
Ms.Carolyn Schmidt, Program Director of ECOLOGIA, has written annual third-party comments on Sompo Holdings Group’s CSR Communication report since 2005 as a member of global civil society. We are extremely grateful for your long-standing engagement and deep understanding of our CSR initiatives, and your thought-provoking suggestions.
To begin with, in regard of our group's CSR progress we are pleased to note that you evaluated our leadership and initiatives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also, most encouraging that you also valued our issuance of sustainable procurement policy as the vital step towards driving social responsibility throughout the group’s value chain. We will continuously strive to tackle ESG-related issues worldwide through our business process and to fulfill our social responsibility.
We are also glad to know that you had a positive understanding towards our strategy for “Incorporating Emerging Technologies”. Indeed, we established SOMPO Digital Lab in Tokyo and Silicon Valley, in the United States, in April 2016 and proceed to leverage our strength combining leading-edge digital technologies (to create a new experience of security, health, and wellbeing) and to contribute to emerging social issues such as super aging society.
Furthermore, attentiveness to diversity, you appreciate our efforts to empower our human capital in addition to create products and services that meet the needs of a diverse society. We will actively continue in creating an environment where various personnel can prosper regardless of nationality, gender, age, or experience.
As suggested, we duly receive and recognize the points to be improved in this year's Web-Based diclosure. Your recommendations are highly appreciated as the supreme purpose to launch a full web-based format was with an aim to enhance accessibility to all our stakeholders. In accordance with your recommendations, we will highlight the key contents and adjust the volume among the cases in accordance with their importance and continue to disclose information in a timely manner.
Lastly, we deeply appreciate your warmest comment regarding our leadership in addressing CSR. In response to your further expectations, we will continue to engage with various stakeholders such as governments and civil societies to further enhance our leadership and contribute in realizing a more resilient and sustainable society.