The resilience of humanity in the face of Covid-19
Globally, the Covid-19 epidemic has wrought unprecedented and significant changes on our lives, economy, and society, and there is no clear way out of our current situation.
From the start, the TDK Group has placed the highest priority on human life, taking a consistent stance to protect its employees and not allow TDK to become a source of infections. Even before Covid-19 spread, we had established a flextime system without core hours and put in place online infrastructure, facilitating a smooth transition to working from home and helping us to realize the importance of being prepared even in normal times. At the same time, I still feel deeply responsible for the fact that we were not able to reduce the number of employee infections to zero, and that has made me painfully aware of just how harrowing Covid-19 is.
Looking back at the past year, I marvel at the resilience of human society—its ability to flexibly adapt and continue on, even in the most difficult circumstances. The initial spread of infections may have brought into relief our human weaknesses and fragility, but thanks to our collective wisdom, in a short time vaccines were developed and people are now being vaccinated the world over. And yet, the future of the pandemic remains unpredictable. Digital technology has played a part in the development and dissemination of effective drugs and vaccines. This effort is not unrelated to our own business, and in fact means that we must devote ourselves even further to fulfilling our role as the TDK Group.
Review of fiscal 2020
Working on a value creation cycle with Social Value as a starting point
Fiscal 2020 was the final year of “Value Creation 2020,” our previous Medium-Term Plan. Under this plan, we endeavored to establish a cycle in which we achieve our Commercial Value (growth strategy) by increasing our Social Value, and through efficient use of the Asset Value (profits and assets) thus gained, make further contributions. Among these three values, Social Value is the starting point. Solving social issues is the very purpose of our business, allowing us to gain opportunities for growth and, in turn, leading to improved performance. The Medium-Term Plan clarified this causal relationship, and I feel confident of the results: Over the three years of the plan, net sales totaled over 4,000 billion yen, a record high, and we reached over 300 billion yen in operating income.
Our businesses vary widely, but each one of them is connected to society. In fiscal 2020, the Sustainability Promotion HQ, an organization directly under the president, deepened discussions with various business groups regarding the TDK Group’s goals for sustainability and the SDGs. Of the issues raised by the SDGs, I believe we have made great progress in studying those for which our technologies and solutions can be utilized in the medium to long term, and in incorporating them into the plans of each division.
In addition, under the Global Human Resources Management system begun in fiscal 2020, TDK Group members around the world are beginning to be linked horizontally in an organic way. At the same time, we have been working to spread our Global Common Regulations, which clarify the rules to be followed by the TDK Group, while respecting the corporate culture of each company. The fact that each Group company has taken these rules as their own and are utilizing them is already a sign of these initiatives bearing fruit.
Identifying TDK Group’s Materiality under the New Medium-Term Plan
Aiming for a sustainable society and company
As we prepared “Value Creation 2023,” our new Medium-Term Plan beginning in fiscal 2021, we also reviewed our key CSR issues and newly identified our corporate materiality. These are management issues we should prioritize if we are to achieve the goals of our Medium-Term Plan and grow sustainably along with society.
Under the new Medium-Term Plan, our primary focus is on digital transformation (DX) and energy transformation (EX) as a means of achieving customer experience and consumer experience (the two “CXs”) and creating value for a sustainable society. The tailwinds driving the digital shift so essential for social resilience, and the need to address climate change—an urgent global issue—continue to expand the fields in which we can play an active role. Materiality is also based on the idea that members of both the business divisions that create products, technologies and solutions, and the staff divisions responsible for quality, human resources, the environment, procurement, corporate planning and marketing will each engage in the sustainability effort. The TDK Group’s materiality reflects the determination of the entire Group to work together to achieve both a sustainable society and corporate growth.
Fundamental workstyle reforms and
leveraging diversity to create a strong organization
Once past the Covid-19 crisis, society will likely not revert to a previous state, continuing on instead with a new normal. Taking this as an opportunity to move into the next era, in June 2020 we established the New Steady State Task Force, made up of young and mid-career employees. They have offered their honest opinions about how our new ways of working should be improved, and we are already addressing those items where changes can be made immediately.
This is not just a matter of making systemic changes, but also will create an opportunity for fundamental workstyle reforms. As a next step, we have created a group of Corporate Officers who bring depth to the critical discussions of what is needed for employees to gain a sense of joy in their work and fulfillment in their lives—an issue that goes to the very core of the company.
Diversity in human resources is also essential. The origins of my understanding of diversity lie in my work experience in Europe, where I was assigned at the age of 32. It was a society in which people from many different countries interacted in diverse ways, sharing their wisdom and working together toward a common goal, accepting one another quite as a matter of course. Having people with diverse backgrounds and opinions come together for discussions is clearly a shorter path to creating innovative ideas than discussing them among a group of uniform members. Currently, the Diversity Promotion Department is working to set numerical targets for issues such as the ratio of female managers, but this is only a starting point for generating change. To reach deeper into the essential issues and make our organization stronger, we will champion and leverage our diversity—in terms of gender, age, race, values, or otherwise.
Achieving our Sustainability Vision:
Realizing a well-being society in which no one is left behind
Through its efforts to address materiality, the TDK Group aims to reach the goals of its Medium-Term Plan and its Sustainability Vision, which states that we will “advance the development of a sustainable society and champion well-being for all people.”
We believe a happy society is one in which no one is left behind. Technology is evolving at a very fast pace, and while there are an increasing number of digital natives able to manipulate it at will, there are also those who are unable to make proper use of technology. It is essential that we think about how to create a society in which everyone can enjoy the benefits of technology without leaving anyone behind.
At the same time, I would also like to realize a society in which people of all ages continue to have the motivation to grow and bring their enthusiasm to take on a variety of challenges. To this end, the TDK Group will continue to engage in dialogue with its various stakeholders, and with all those employees who strive for personal growth as a driving force, we will move steadily forward toward creating value for a sustainable society.