Yokogawa's Purpose: A Lodestar for Our Social Mission
The emergence of COVID-19 has unsettled our lives, our society, and our economy. Before the pandemic, we perceived issues like climate change, other worldwide environmental problems, and ever-widening monetary gaps divisive to society, but its arrival has brought these matters to light again.
This tough challenge gives us the opportunity to rethink what we should do to assure a sustainable future—both as individuals and as companies—and reflect on the roles we are to play in pursuing meaningful lives for all. Facing such common challenges together, we have come to realize not only that everyone on the planet is intimately connected, but also that there is value in trust and empathy among people around the world.
Finding Solutions to Global Issues
― Essential aspirations and drive of companies to deliver value to stakeholders
To solve these global issues, governments, companies, and people must cooperate with each other as valued partners to fulfill their respective responsibilities. Companies, which play an especially vital role as entities that impact society, are increasingly expected to deliver value to stakeholders across several domains. In this era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), a situation of unpredictable change when the future is hard to foresee, management is expected to take a long-term perspective in striving for sustainable growth while contributing to society and the environment.
This is why corporate purpose has once again been drawn into the spotlight. Having faced a global pandemic, people are talking more and more about the readiness of companies or organizations to change and how quickly they can transition. Until the significance of an organization and its roles are made clear, however, a company will have a hard time inspiring change in the right direction. As a contributing member of society, a company needs to place a shared set of values and ideas at the heart of its business activities and management that resonates with both internal and external stakeholders. Corporate purpose is deeply connected as well to the roles and feelings of individuals. So when the corporate and individual aspirations are aligned, the organization can gain a strong drive and momentum.
Looking back in retrospect, corporate purpose is not a new concept for Japanese companies. Since before the Edo period (1603—1867), merchants of the Omi region, in western Japan, took what was called a “three-way approach”: doing business in a way that works well for all concerned—seller, buyer, and society—which today is known as stakeholder-focused management. Famous company managers from the Meiji period (1868—1912) onward, including Eiichi Shibusawa, a Japanese industrialist widely known as the father of Japanese capitalism, are renowned for having talked about the importance of building relationships with clients, society, and employees, and of looking for business solutions to social issues.
From the day that Yokogawa was founded in 1915, founder Tamisuke Yokogawa was highly aware of his company's social mission, encouraging partners and founding members to take on the challenge of new business areas, saying, “You don't need to worry about profits. Just learn and improve our technology. You must make products that earn us the respect of our customers.”
The founding principles that he put forward are “quality first,” “pioneering spirit," and "contribution to society." Measurement and control, the bedrock foundation of Yokogawa's enterprise, have become technologies essential for development of our industry. We therefore can see how his aspiration to create products that contribute to humanity has endured for more than a century.
With that philosophy in mind, Yokogawa has been developing technologies ahead of the times, keeping an eye on an ever-changing society and economy, and delivering new value. Thanks to years of such pursuits, what began as an electric meter research institute of four people has become a global-level corporation that advances industrial automation, drives the growth of industries and infrastructures around the world, and creates an array of products and services essential for a wide range of industries.
Realize a Future When People and the Planet Live Together in Symbiotic Harmony
― With our core competence to measure and connect, we shall create sustainable value and solve social issues
In May 2021, as per our Accelerate Growth 2023 mid-term business plan and revision of our long-term business framework, we enacted Yokogawa's Purpose statement, which defines our mission to society and provides guidance on its fulfillment:
Utilizing our ability to measure and connect, we fulfill our responsibilities for the future of our planet.
This statement epitomizes Yokogawa's dedication to meet the needs and expectations of customers, the market, and society. “Measure” represents our origin: We create value by measuring things, capturing and analyzing their status, and using the information derived from such findings. “Connect” refers to how Yokogawa not only combines valuable information, but also builds trusted relationships with customers from multiple industries and brings together companies and industries, giving resonance to the value we create.
With our ability to measure and connect as a core competence, Yokogawa has attended to safe and efficient operation of customer plants and infrastructure, as well as to leading research and development. We want to leverage that ability to solve the social problems we share and create a future in which people and the earth can live in harmony. The phrase in our purpose statement, "fulfill our responsibilities for the future of our planet," embodies this aim. One corporation alone cannot solve global issues. This is why we at Yokogawa have always focused on and worked with co-creation. Establishing and announcing our purpose statement was important for reaffirming our commitment and identifying what needs to be done, as well as for gaining the empathy of various people, within and outside the company, to enhance our centripetal force.
Steadily Moving Ahead with Clear Goals
― Advancing co-creation to achieve three sustainability goals
In line with our declared purpose, we redefined our vision statement.
While our declared purpose is an ongoing pursuit, Yokogawa's vision statement focuses on where we wish to be ten years from now and the ideals we should uphold, based on our long-term business framework:
Through autonomy and symbiosis, Yokogawa will create sustainable value and lead the way in solving global issues.
Operational autonomy contributes to improved productivity, minimized risk, reduced employee workload, and safety, all achieved across the boundaries of organization, company, and industry. Given this crossover, we will co-create with multiple companies to contribute to society and symbiotic industries that practice sustainable business and thereby generate enduring value while proactively striving to solve social issues.
Our vision and purpose statements were formulated with employees to align company and worker aims. This was done to assure that Yokogawa is a company to which everyone can relate, a place to openly discuss the ideals we want to maintain and what makes our corporate life significant. To confirm how Group employees felt about Yokogawa, we globally conducted an online survey and held online roundtable discussions with the president. In this way, it seems to be the culmination of management's efforts. Both statements were created to reflect the aspirations of employees.
To realize our vision for society in the year 2050, Yokogawa has set forth environmental, social, and economic sustainability goals. We think of them as our “Three goals”: response to climate change (achieving net-zero emissions); quality of life (ensuring well-being for all); and circulation of resources and efficiency (transitioning to a circular economy). To achieve these goals, we are working on establishing and realizing indicators based on our long-term business framework, setting short-term business targets as well as mid-term social impact objectives.
Application of Yokogawa's measure and connect ability has been pursued in various areas to realize our “Three goals” while creating new value. In carbon recycling, for example, seen as an effective measure against global warming, our control technology has contributed to steady production of hydrogen, a key component of such recycling.
In pharmaceuticals that safeguard people's life and health, Yokogawa has worked to efficiently develop biologics with high-precision real-time monitoring and cutting-edge control technology. In recent years, production of biologics has increased in proportion to rising expectations for consecutive culturing methods. Deploying this technology and expertise, we will collaborate with customers to develop culture solutions for current and successive production purposes. As for circular economy, Yokogawa partners with JEPLAN, Inc. (Japan Environment PLANning), a company with proprietary polyester resin recycling technologies, to co-create plant operations with the most advanced resource-circulation in the world.
The unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus has given humanity another chance to realize how we all are interconnected and that the key to solving global issues is indeed co-creation. At a time when the future seems uncertain, how are we to preserve our beautiful planet, one of symbiotic harmony with people, and tell the story of our earth? Steadily moving ahead with the declaration in our purpose statement, of "fulfilling our responsibilities for the future of our planet," Yokogawa will continue our endeavor.