July 20, 2010


Japan's Fuji Xerox: Using Document Services to Foster Change in Society

Keywords: Newsletter 

JFS Newsletter No.94 (June 2010)
"Towards a Sustainable Japan -- Corporations at Work" (No. 92)

Fuji Xerox Co. was founded in 1962 as a joint corporation of Fuji Film Corp. (subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp.) and Rank Xerox (U.K.) Ltd. (which later changed its name to Xerox Ltd.), and inherited the vision of Joe Wilson, founder of U.S.-based Xerox Corp., that his company would help increase mutual understanding among people around the world by promoting better communication. Fuji Xerox has been committed ever since to helping its customers improve communication by producing and selling copiers and laser printers, and by providing system solution services for document control.

Fuji Xerox espouses the concept that "corporate social responsibility (CSR) means corporate management," and has committed itself to contributing to the development of a sustainable society through its business and other activities. In fiscal 2009, for example, the company reorganized the structure of its in-house CSR meetings to more deeply incorporate the aspect of CSR into its management strategies, as a way of stepping up its various activities focused on sustainability.

Shown by its commitment to CSR, the information is presented to stakeholders in an easy-to-understand manner in the company's sustainability report, helping to create a virtuous circle where stakeholders understand and feel empathy for the company's efforts, which ultimately becomes the company's driving force for business operations. We asked Koichi Nomura, Planning Group Manager in the Corporate Social Responsibility Department of Fuji Xerox, about its efforts toward sustainability, and thoughts and vision on the efforts.

Publishing an Open-Minded Sustainability Report

In recognition of the quality of its reporting, given the fact that many Japanese companies are eagerly engaged in publishing CSR or environmental reports, Fuji Xerox was awarded the prize for excellence for its "Sustainability Report 2009," at the 13th Green Reporting Award and Sustainability Reporting Award ceremony, sponsored by business publisher Toyo Keizai, Inc.

Fuji Xerox's Sustainability Report 2009

Fuji Xerox's report received high recognition, because it shows the company's enthusiastic stance by indicating numerical targets to address each issue, and it summarizes the descriptions of its Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and provides details about the efforts of all its group companies both at home and abroad.

We asked Nomura, who is responsible for editing the report, about the company's efforts to move toward sustainability, and asked for his thoughts about its efforts and vision for the future. He said that in preparation he first studied reports published by overseas companies, and keenly felt the importance of communicating with stakeholders. He then identified information about the company that stakeholders said they were interested in, and worked to inform them in the report of the company's thoughts and aims in a focused way.

One section of the report, titled "Self-Evaluation on Progress of Our CSR Performance," summarizes into four pages information on each group of stakeholders (customers, employees, etc.). It was prepared based on the results of an annual survey of its 60 affiliated companies that includes about 300 questions, and was used while formulating its CSR strategies. Nomura says that the company focused mostly on this section in the report.

Self-Evaluation on Progress of Our CSR Performance

In explaining what is in this section, Nomura said, "We show the past performances and goals of each group of stakeholders, but you will also find blanks for numerical targets for the percentage of female employees in executive or managerial positions and in the items on social contribution. This is because we are still discussing them. Like this example, we intentionally disclose the items that have yet to be decided on in regard to our PDCA cycle."

The report also includes an introduction to the activities of the company's overseas affiliates in an easily understood manner, as well as a conversation between company executives and Sadako Ogata, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In this way, it includes not only domestic but also global topics, with the aim of being well worth reading both in Japan and abroad.

The report appears to have been edited in an open-minded and sincere manner, and has been well received both in and outside the company. The Sustainability Report, which well illustrates the company's business concept of "CSR is corporate management," is being utilized on the front lines as a communication tool for establishing trusting relationships with customers.

Using Proven Technology to Support Sustainability

One of the strengths of Fuji Xerox is its technological capability, as proven by the fact that it has won the Energy Conservation Award, sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, for 11 consecutive years. As an environmental technology strategy, the company decided in 1997 that it would incorporate energy-saving functions into all its copying machines. Its engineers at the time made ongoing efforts to continuously upgrade business functionality and marketability such as speed, appearance, convenience, and low price at the same time as boosting environmental performance, including energy, resource and space efficiency. Their efforts to pursue what appear to be competing objectives have led to the development of a series of new technologies.

In order to enhance its research efforts, the company recently completed its new research and development base, Fuji Xerox R&D Square, in May 2010, in the Minato Mirai 21 District in the city of Yokohama. By concentrating its R&D departments, previously located throughout Japan, in one facility, opportunities to have conversations with customers and exchanges with universities and other research organizations have increased, and inter-departmental cooperation has also been strengthened.

In the years to come, it is expected that demand for multifunction devices and printers will increase in emerging countries, where such equipment has not been used very much so far. In that event, energy and resource use will inevitably increase. Nomura says, "Of course, what is fundamentally needed is reform of our social system. I believe that technology can make a considerable contribution to such reform, and this is Japan's role as a technology-oriented nation. I believe that technological innovation has significant potential, although it is not a good idea to depend on technology alone."

In Japan, in the meantime, it is said that customer needs have shifted, moving from simply wanting the energy-saving performance of copying machines, printers, and other devices to wanting total office management in terms of the entire output environment. That is to say, expectations are getting higher regarding the optimal location of devices and management methods of entire printing processes. The company is also engaged in researching business models to meet such needs.

Preserving Biodiversity

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as CBD COP10, will be held in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, in October 2010, which is helping to raise public awareness of biodiversity in Japan. Fuji Xerox incorporated a commitment to biodiversity into its environmental mid-term plan, and has officially begun activities to support that goal.

In terms of Fuji Xerox's business activities related to biodiversity, it has established rules, in cooperation with paper manufacturers, to increase its procurement of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. It has also completed an investigation on land use at its four major manufacturing sites in Japan to identify critical problems, and is preparing to establish a system to conduct ongoing monitoring of progress made to address them. The company is also planning to conduct impact assessments from October 2010 onward at its four overseas sites.

Regarding social contribution activities, the company is running a program called "One Company, One Theme: Movement on Biodiversity." In the past, its affiliated companies conducted environmental activities independently. From now on, under the common umbrella of biodiversity conservation, each will choose a theme and an indicator for its activities in response to local needs. Various activities, such as conducting a "life-form survey," are being performed by its affiliated companies in cooperation with local residents and non-governmental organizations.

Nomura says, "We will implement these types of environmental activities by making business and social contribution 'two wheels of the same cart.' Because it requires an astoundingly long time to restore and conserve biodiversity, I think we should at first increase the number of our company members, as many as possible, who are interested in biodiversity, and raise questions about the current situation in which environmental destruction is occurring."

Challenges in Reforming Social Systems to Reduce GHG Emissions

Fuji Xerox set its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets for FY2020 in February 2009, and is working on reducing emissions both at home and abroad through the entire lifecycle of its products, with the aim of reducing its annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from 1.7 million tons in FY2005 to 1.2 million tons by FY2020.

Operating under the idea that it can reduce CO2 emissions by not only reducing them throughout their products' lifecycles but also by proposing new ways of working that do not involve commuting, the company decided to help transform systems in society through the introduction of new ways of working, and set a goal of reducing annual CO2 emissions by seven million tons at customer companies and in society by FY2020.

Nomura says, "It is now possible to work not only in the office but also at home and even while traveling. To realize this, what is necessary is information. We will provide ways of sharing information so that people can communicate naturally and smoothly, even among those separate from each other, in order to improve working efficiency as well as mitigate environmental impacts. And thus we will contribute to the creation of a new work style."

"In the globalized economy, what is increasingly more important is to effectively 'communicate with and understand each other,'" Nomura says. Fuji Xerox plans to continue contributing to better communication and mutual understanding in the world by using its accumulated document-related technology, even though the trend of times changes and information is transmitted not so much on paper but by computerized documents.

Written by Reiko Aomame

See also: "Re-designing the office copier -- One manufacturer's efforts to conserveresources" Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd.