Canon has always been encouraging employees to volunteers time for CSR causes: CEO of Canon India Kazutada Kobayashi

At Canon India, we have been involved in various community welfare programs in the past and this project is an attempt to build a progressive self-reliant rural community. We are positive this will be a step ahead for a better and brighter India.

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By Rusen Kumar

NEW DELHI: CANON is a name that requires no preface. Its worldwide business chain has ever been growing and in past couple of decades Canon India has wonderfully performed in various spheres of its deals in India, and thus too in contending the CSR barriers here.

Canon takes pride in not only bringing quality products to the market; but also contributes to minimizing environmental burdens through effective application of environmental technologies. Canon focuses on the development of resource conserving products that are smaller, lighter and easy to recycle. In India, Canon has laid the yoke of Canon India Private Limited to a multi-skilled and well-learned man Kazutada Kobayashi, as its president and CEO.

Under Kazutada Kobayashi’s leadership, Canon has grown to a multi-crore fat company serving customers across the globe. Kobayashi firmly believes that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things and speaks out proudly that CANON has always been encouraging employees to volunteer their time for CSR causes, without which a company can never prosper. At Canon India, he played a strategic role, and without which, operational efficiencies would not have been possible during their expansion periods.

In conversation with Rusen Kumar, Editor, IndiaCSRKazutada Kobayashi shared his views on various aspects of CSR of his company .

The full excerpts of the interview with Kobayashi are here for the readers of IndiaCSR.

Welcome to India CSR Network, Please introduce yourself and your involvement with Canon?

I joined Canon in 1980 and have spent the past 25 years working in the company’s various overseas operations in Germany, the Netherlands and Hong Kong. I am currently steering the helm at Canon India Pvt. Ltd. as President & CEO, overseeing the Chief Executive function of the overall management of the company and leading the company to growth in the Indian sub-continent. Incorporated in 1997, Canon India Pvt. Ltd. is a 100% subsidiary of Canon Singapore Pte. Ltd; a world leader in imaging technologies.

How much Corporate Responsibility is attached to Canon’s business and operations?

Canon takes pride in not only bringing quality products to the market; but also contributes to minimizing environmental burden through effective application of environmental technologies. Canon focuses on the development of resource conserving products that are smaller, lighter and easy to recycle. In India, Canon takes responsibility to dispose off end of life Canon products and other e-waste by sending such waste to government approved recycling agency.

Has Canon India framed any CSR policy?

In January 2012, we established the Canon Group CSR Activity Policy, which outlines Canon’s commitment to our CSR efforts in global as well as local communities by effectively leveraging the company’s advanced technological strengths, global business deployment, and diverse, specialized human resources.

Brief us about some major CSR initiatives of Canon India.

For a corporate to be socially responsible and making its CSR activities as effective and sustained, employees are encouraged to give back to the society and demonstrate responsible behaviors to address social issues. iCare Project at Canon demonstrates commitment towards the below causes:

  • Eye Care
  • Education
  • Environment

We also encourage employees to volunteer their time to above causes.

As part of its recent icare initiatives, Canon India had organized eye-screening camps across 6 states of India. It also partnered with UNICEF ‘Awaaz Do’ campaign in promoting the right to education in India.

Canon India has adopted four green belts in association with DLF and iamgurgaon campaign to whereby thousands of trees have been planted. We also support organization Goonj with organizing collection drives across all our offices in India.

Keeping up with its commitment of giving back to the community we operate in; Canon India recently announced the launch of its CSR initiative- ‘Adopt a Village’. With this, Canon India has added another milestone to its CSR initiatives by adopting Ferozpur Namak village in Mewat District of Haryana. The program aims to support the village with core interventions of Eye care, Education and Environment for a period of three years.

At Canon India, we have been involved in various community welfare programs in the past and this project is an attempt to build a progressive self-reliant rural community. We are positive this will be a step ahead for a better and brighter India.

What are the ongoing social projects by Canon India?

Vision Center: As part of the Adopt a village project, Canon India has established a vision centre at Ferozpur Namak which aims to support over 50,000 people including the neighboring cluster of villages. In the last three months since the launch, more than 1100 villagers have been registered and treated for eye care services.

School Improvement: Canon India is supporting a government school by improving its infratsructure. Some initiatives inlude- opening a resource centre & library. We are also working towards building toilets for girls and making drinking water accessible for the students.

A lot of employee engagement activities like friendly cricket match between our staff and the children are organized in the school.

Paper Recycling: Where plantation of trees and developing green belts is the main focus; Canon takes equal efforts to discourage cutting of trees. The waste paper collected from office is recycled into notepads and paper rims. These notepads can further be recycled 6 times. Over 13 tonne of paper has been given for recycling in the last 6 months that also saves cutting of trees.

Tree Plantation: As we aim towards a Greener Gurgaon, our latest initiative is the association with Rapid Metro Gurgaon Ltd. to develop six green belts across all metro station. Canon India would be managing the plantation activity for all the stations and to begin with, we have started landscaping the station located at Phase III, DLF, Gurgaon.

As CEO of Canon Hong Kong Co. Ltd you were responsible for the company’s strategic management and direction, how much CSR is attached in business operation in Hongkong?

I often believe that a company is like a human being. I’d make a small analogy that Canon is also a single human being who also has to be a good citizen in the society and be responsible for the prosperity of that certain society in the world.

I was appointed as President and CEO of Canon Hong Kong Co. Ltd. in 2008 and was responsible for the company’s strategic management and direction. We were associated with number of NGOs including WWF, UNICEF, Wai Yin Association, Friends of Earth (HK), Make a Wish and many more. One of our CSR projects in Hong Kong was Tsuzuri Project. This project involved taking pictures of cultural heritage sites. We continued with a project called Photo Marathon in which 1,000 photographers were invited. Three subjects were given with the objective of raising funds for charity purposes.

Another imaging CSR in Hong Kong was Children Snapshot Workshop where kids clicked pictures and were educated on how to produce good pictures. We also organized Hong Kong Dance Marathon with over 300 participants danced for 8 hours and raised funds for Suicide Prevention Services. We have got genuine support from the management following which we also participated in WWF Glass Bottom Boat Trip, Beach Cleaning and Earth Hour. 

What is your perception about Government of India’s emphasis on CSR?

Corporate social responsibility is moving from the fringes to the mainstream of corporate consciousness. The upcoming government directive to companies to spend 2% of their net profit on CSR activities is making them think, strategize, plan and discuss more deeply. Canon India completely supports the government’s directive and will strive to invest the necessary funds towards social and welfare programs in India like it has been doing ever since it began operations in the country.

As Canon ups its ante – and its budgets for social sector activities, it will definitely want to pause and think about the best way to make its CSR spend count.

CSR has positive impact on overall development of organization. Do you think that CSR needs to be integrated into the heart of business policy and strategy?

Companies, as public entities within society, are expected to contribute to the realization of a better society through sound and fair business activities.

Since the company’s founding, the spirit of contributing to society has been an integral part of Canon’s corporate culture. In addition to offering excellent products and services worldwide, we have strived to ensure full compliance, protect the global environment, and provide humanitarian support around the world following disasters.

In January 2012, we established the Canon Group CSR Activity Policy, which outlines Canon’s commitment to our CSR efforts in global as well as local communities by effectively leveraging the company’s advanced technological strengths, global business deployment, and diverse, specialized human resources.

Capitalizing on our strengths, Canon will contribute to the realization of a better society as a good corporate citizen, so as to be a corporation worthy of admiration and respect worldwide as a truly excellent global company.

Being a CSR leader, what are the recent trends in CSR in India in your perspective?

India Inc has gone from chequebook philanthropy and backing causes on a whim to spending more and in different ways on stakeholders, be it customers or employees, or rural and semi-urban populations affected by the setting up of factories in their neighborhoods.

Today, companies are looking beyond their operational imperatives. At Canon, for example, we don’t wish our CSR activities to be linked to our work. We want to look at areas completely de-linked from our business, like education and eye care.

Why sustainability issues are becoming more crucial for the organizations?

We have various reporting standards, measuring indicators, Key Point Indicators, frameworks and so on for corporate. All through the decade corporate have been active participants in economic development of our nation. Presently, they are persuaded to be an active participant in the social development by means of philanthropy and lately by sustainable and inclusive growth.  Most of the large scale companies are active in all the above mentioned spheres.

How will you define the Inclusive Growth in today’s competitive environment?

Presenting his eighth Union Budget, Finance Minister P Chidambaram in his budget 2013 speech gave emphasis to the need for ‘inclusive growth’. He mentioned that the budget will focus on higher growth and financial inclusion. At Canon, we believe that inclusive and sustainable growth is extremely important in today’s competitive environment. Many people will be left behind if we do not pay attention to growth and this growth should definitely be sustainable.

In your opinion, what CSR steps should Indian companies take, so as to be at par with the International level?

It’s good to be engaged with people who live in and around your plants or factories (the traditional way of doing CSR), but companies need to look beyond their business interests. If companies aspire to be national and global entities, their reach [in the social sector] must also be national and global. The Indian government gives a lot of incentives to companies for doing CSR, and this is a motivational factor that can ensure that more responsible practices are in place in an organization.

Who is your ideal personality?

Jack Welch, John F. Kennedy and Steve Jobs

Which is your recently read favourite book?

Apple Experience by Carmine Callo

You have travelled across widely, which destination you liked the most?

Mongolia

(Rusen Kumar is the founder and director of India CSR Network. Rusen Kumar is a seasoned professional having very strong inter personal skills with strong professional ties across the globe. He has been consistent in delivering excellence in various domain areas of social entrepreneurship, social journalism and social-economic development and has contributed phenomenally in bringing about radical change in life and life style of people from various strata of society. He has made remarkable contributions to the world of media and journalism by contributing to series of leading dailies and been a contributor to the turnkey process mapping and management of various media related ventures. His passion towards corporate social responsibility motivated him to conceptualize and promote India CSR Network as India’s maiden and largest online portal to further the upliftment of social issues. He can be reached at editor@indiacsr.in)

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