May 20, 2022

Ricoh seeks to lead changes in society with ‘three loves’

Yoshinori Yamashita, president and chief executive officer of Ricoh Co., Ltd. | The japan times

The Ricoh group, whose operations cover about 200 countries and territories, is working to graduate from an office automation equipment maker and convert itself into a digital services company. Leading the effort is President Yoshinori Yamashita, who believes it is important to resolve social issues through business activities and “for all of our employees to have the awareness that they should lead changes in our society.”

Ricoh bases its corporate activities on the “spirit of three loves,” principles formulated by founder Kiyoshi Ichimura in 1946: “Love your neighbor,” “Love your country” and “Love your work”. Based on these principles, which are compatible with the U.N. sustainable development goals to no one behind, the company identified seven important social issues in the two areas of “resolving social issues through business” and “strengthening the robust management structure” supporting that, and set 17 environmental, social and governance goals.

Aerial photograph of Ricoh’s plant with installed solar panels | Ricoh.

Ricoh calls its ESG (environmental, social and governance) goals the “future financial goals” with an aim to “build the financial position in five years and a decade,” according to Yamashita. They are also management goals, not just financial goals, he said. In fact, Ricoh’s ESG activities are increasingly becoming a key factor for especially European customers to decide to purchase its products. In Japan, the company’s advanced initiatives can sometimes prove useful in making proposals to customers and serve as a trigger for dialogue and engagement.

Ricoh has a long history of tackling environmental issues. The company established an environmental promotion section in 1976 and came up with the concept of sustainable environmental management, in which environmental conservation and profit generation are pursued at the same time, in 1998. In 1994, it came up with the “comet circle,” a concept to help establish a circular society. The ratio of components recycled in Ricoh’s multifunction printers increased to more than 96 percent, while the ratio of those ending up in landfills decreased to 4 percent or lower.

Since he became Ricoh’s president in 2017, Yamashiha “has re-accelerated the practice of the spirit of three loves,” he said. As part of this effort, he has prioritized the disclosure of nonfinancial information to stakeholders and dialogue with them. Twenty days after he took the post, Ricoh joined the RE100, an international initiative encouraging businesses to transition to 100% renewable electricity, becoming the first Japanese company to do so. Yamashita said he was confident the company will be able to raise the ratio of renewable electricity to 50% by 2030. In 2019, Ricoh joined Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG), an international initiative aimed at promoting diversity in workplaces and supply chains, becoming the only Asian founding member. It has worked to eliminate the digital divide. Yamashita has worked to get views of Japanese and Asians to be reflected in the process of establishing international ESG rules.

Ricoh’s vision for the 100th anniversary of its foundation in 2036 is “Fulfillment through Work.” “We hope to help create a society in which people at work can be focused on creative work and feel joy” by helping improve the efficiency of the workflow through Ricoh’s digital services, Yamashita said.

In that sense, the company’s efforts on SDGs and ESG are also essential for helping employees find fulfillment through work, he said. In an internal survey, to which 83% of Ricoh’s employees responded, 98% of the respondents said they felt their work had a bearing on SDGs. “We hope to create workplaces in which all employees can have confidence and feel fulfilled at work,” Yamashita said. Ricoh’s transformation into a company that leads changes in society, in which employees who share the spirit of the three loves take active roles, is just around the corner.

Naonori Kimura
Industrial Growth platform Inc. (IGPI) Partner

Visionary leadership: Executives establish grand visions and goals, which are carried out with everybody participating. Ricoh has practiced the ideal style of business management, which may seem obvious but is actually very difficult, for many years. A flexible organizational capability that can respond quickly to major changes in the market plus strong leadership to guide it are at the root of Ricoh’s corporate culture.

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