Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) today is usually understood as the way an organization balances between their economic, social and environmental imperatives while still meeting their shareholders and stakeholders expectations. It's basically about businesses giving back to the society.
Through its management functions of Corporate governance, Sony's recent adoption of a corporate governance system - "Company with Committees" to ensure transparency and separation of Management function from the functions of the Board of directors. This ensures that all the business functions are efficiently managed under the Sony group.
Sony believes in strengthening its compliance system through ethical business functions and corporate culture. Recent steps taken by Sony group to set up a Compliance office at its corporate and regional offices around the world ensures the Sony group performs its business activities with integrity and resources are made available for all employees to guide them of any legal or ethical issues.
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Through Social contribution activities, Sony tries to create a positive impact by making the most efficient use of its available resources like products technology and business activity.
The launch of the Sony Science program which includes a series of workshops for children which aim to promote education in science among public and help children experience the wonders of science.
Also encourages children to enhance their capacity to think logically and creatively.
Sony Group has established an effective globalised environmental management system to ensure it minimizes its environmental impact.
Various steps taken by Sony to ensure a sustainable environment for the next generation are :
The Environmental Plan 'Road to Zero' - to achieve zero environmental footprint.
Green Management 2010 / 2015 - strive to minimize the impact on environment in all its sites worldwide and encourage product recycling.
A Global Environmental Management Structure - Through an effective environment management system globally, it strives to ensure all its steps towards minimizing impact on environment are carried out effectively.
Through its CSR Innovation functions, Sony tries and implements new innovative technologies that contribute to the society.
Through working in partnership with different stakeholders like World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Business for Social Responsibility, CSR Europe, through this Sony ensure it commits towards its CSR functions.
The launch of the 'Eco Patent Commons' was a major step towards addressing environmental issues and innovate manufacturing/ business processes by the portfolio of patents.
Through various marketing activities Sony enables its customers to come up with solutions to environmental problems. Solar Bear campaign - Cause related marketing is an example through which money is raised to install solar power generation units at kindergarten and nursery schools. Under this same campaign, Sony products displaying 'Solar bear', Sony donates a part of the revenue generated from these products towards above power generation.
Sony Group strives to be an employee-centric organization considering its employees an important aspect. Sony gives credit to its employee's and their potential to be able to offer world class products to its customers everywhere, so maximizing employee's potential is important for the Sony group. It believes in creating a diversified and a dynamic work place for its employees at Sony, giving importance to recruitment & personnel policies and aim to recruit people with a exceptional personalities and values irrespective of their gender, race or religion.
Effective communication between the top management & employees at lower level is ensured, giving employees the opportunity to be heard and help maintain their work life balance.
Sony Group believes it is their responsibility to offer the best products to their customers and understand their customer's requirements before offering them products to avoid any disappointment. Some of the ways Sony ensures responsibility towards the quality of products it offers to its customers are:
Having an efficient Quality Management Control System to continuously improve its processes at all levels through personnel appointments within each business group.
Give importance to Customer feedbacks and effective evaluation of the same.
Ensuring safety and long term reliability of Sony products through various initiatives like in house examination of product safety against human health.
Introduction of light weighted products - something that customers always prefer.
Ensuring the security of the products through an internal team who carry out various security risk assessments.
CSR in the Consumer Electronics' Industry -
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Today, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important part of any business and also acts as a informative tool about how an organization is contributing to the society and its members and in what ways.
This has also led to competition between different companies in the same industry and continuous strive towards improvement which ultimately results in the industry growth while still being able to contribute to the society.
Below is a brief comparison of Sony group with the other key players Philips & Samsung in the consumer electronics industry.
Comparison of CSR - Sony / Philips & Samsung
Towards the Environment
- Has an effective globalised Environmental Management Systemin place to minimize the impact on environment
- Green ManagementProject in Place to encourage recycling.
- Main focus on remaining energy efficient, recycling &minimize the chemical contents of the Philips products.
- Compliance with RoHS (restriction on use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment) &supports WEEE.
- Use of recycled products in the process of manufacturing.
- Supports WEEE (Waste Electrical &Electronic Equipment) to maximize recycling.
- Adoption of Life Cycle Assessment method in order to reduce environmental impacts during the production stages of the product.
- Energy Management trainings for employees to reduce energy consumptions.
Towards the Society
-Introduction of the Sony Science Program which encourages the youth to enhance their capability to think logically and creatively.
- Provide a world of experience of Science to the children / public through various science workshops.
- . Partnership with Project HOPE to improve the various chronic diseases in China. This partnership will provide funding and technical support and aims to transfer its clinical expertise to the other community health care systems
-steps towards reducing poverty, illiteracy and improving people's health.
- Samsung's CSR functions towards the society include the 3 Priority programs
- Support to the young students
- Help to children of low income families
- Promoting the healthy families
- Social contributions globally through programs like youth anti obesity, sponsorship of youth education in Africa, Support to children's cancer wards and more.
- Believes in pursuing a 'Happier society'.
Towards their employees
-strives to be an employee-centric organization by maximizing its employee's potential along with a good working environment.
- An effective communication system between management &employees.
- Recruitment of people with highest level of potential and exceptional values/personalities.
- effective communication within Philips group and strives to offer suitable working conditions to its employees.
- effective alignment between employee objectives and overall company objectives.
-Respects Global diversity.
- Core values include recruitment and retaining employee's of high potential
- Training to employees on International Labor Law to prevent unfair discrimination and labor practices.
Towards customers through their products
-responsibility towards understanding their customers needs &expectations and accordingly offer products/services.
- Importance of customer feedbacks and implementation of the same.
- In house examination of the products safety against human health before it's out to the customers.
-Making affordable &energy efficient light available to the ones without light.
- Offers Sustainable choices to customers- offers a choice to customers through the green logo encouraging customers to participate in reducing environmental impact.
- Believes in increasing its product competitiveness by bringing about improvements in services/ products as well as quality.
- efficient handling of customer dissatisfaction
- Ensures security on its customer's information.
Tangible & Intangible benefits for Sony through it's ethical and social responsible activities
CSR can be termed as the various measures taken by any organization to protect rights of their employees, stakeholders, suppliers & customers as a part of their responsibility. This in turn also results in various benefits to an organization. These benefits could be tangible or intangible to the company. For many companies, their CSR reports are a way to acquiring new customers, markets, and within the consumer electronics industry, the green products have created a pool of opportunities for many companies.
Some of the benefits that the Sony group enjoys through its ethical and social responsibilities are
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assurance of legal compliance within the Sony Group
enhance the Sony brand and its reputation by the society
High market share by their various green products, as customers have now become conscious of global warming and its affects and prefer to contribute to minimize its impact.
Increase in market share through the various 'ethical' logos as customers are keen on purchasing ethical products.
An opportunity for Sony to understand its shareholders, customer's expectations and needs and respond accordingly.
A gateway to sustainability.
An important tool for potential shareholders, customers while deciding to invest in Sony group.
Ensures the presence of a compliance system within Sony where all business functions are carried out ethically.
Sony's responsibility towards its employees, it leads to high retention of employees.
Market survey on favorite electronic brand
After some questionnaire with a group of electronic brand users on what their favorite brand was, it was interesting to know how Sony is still the second most favorite brand among the present generation. Out of the group of 15 who were frequent users of electronic items, approximately 7-8 of them claimed Apple as their favorite brand due to the latest technology and the user friendly and for the main reason that it exceeded customer's expectations in terms of technology, though it was a bit high priced and could be afforded only by the well off people.
While, a couple of them also preferred Philips as their brand for reasons of a rich quality brand which has provided great products since decades.
The remaining preferred Sony for the sole reason of excellent quality, which many new brands have failed to provide in recent times. Be in picture quality or phone/sound quality, as described by them Sony was the brand they would always prefer if they had to buy a television, a music player or a camera because of the great quality.
(the group of people on whom this survey was carried out were in the age group 21-35)
Survey / review on Sony's CSR practices
While some of them were not exactly aware of Sony's CSR practices, after providing them with brief information on the various practices of Sony group, there was a mixed review.
Some stated that the Science workshop by Sony group was a very innovative way to create innovation from youth and also give an opportunity to the children to think creatively and it was an exception practice which they had not come across before.
Practices towards the environment though the green products and awareness was also a good step taken by Sony, as stated by most.
However, there were some statements on how Sony should now come up with something exceptionally innovative product for its customers. With a company with a high brand name and reputation offering high quality products, coming up with something new in the market was the current requirement for Sony to get back its position at the top in their industry.
Recommendations for Sony's Business Strategy
When questioned on what would they recommend for Sony's business strategy, most of them stated Sony needs to come up with an innovative strategy and concentrate more on their digital cameras, televisions, laptops and sound systems.
Many of them showed dislike for the Sony mobile phones even though they prefer Sony as their favorite brand and stated that Sony should get out of the mobile phone's market as they should stick to doing what they are good at.
While some also suggested Sony should lower down their costs in order to gain more market share as they thought there were people who were not able to afford Sony even if they would like to, due to the high costs. As Sony is already well known for its quality brand, it would not have much problem gaining the confidence of its consumers if it lowers its prices ( as some customers might view lower cost products as cheap quality)
Thus, while some suggested a Product Differentiation strategy through innovation, some felt that a low cost business strategy at Sony would also help Sony increase their market share globally, especially in this current economic environment.