Third-Party Opinion

As she did both last year and the year before, Makiko Akabane again shares her opinion on the CSR activities of Mazda Motor Corporation and its Group companies in Japan and other countries, as well as information disclosure regarding their CSR activities, in view of the Mazda Sustainability Report 2016 and the exchange of opinions with the members of Mazda Head Office.

Makiko Akabane
CSR Asia Japan Office

In this fiscal year, which is the last year of Mazda’s Structural Reform Plan, the Company has made continuous efforts to strengthen its financial basis and enhance its brand value. Especially, in terms of brand value enhancement, Mazda has received high evaluations from both home and abroad. The Company achieved a highly visible result by introducing a new-generation product series featuring its innovative basic technologies, SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, and Mazda’s new design theme, KODO—Soul of Motion. In March 2016, the Roadster/MX-5 received both the 2016 World Car of the Year and the 2016 World Car Design of the Year awards. I have heard that this is the first time that one model has received both awards simultaneously, since the awards were established. Starting in 2013, Mazda has been energetically promoting efforts toward brand value-focused business management. This approach has been keenly adopted among its employees, who reflect it in their daily business activities. All these efforts have borne fruit in the form of a product highly evaluated all over the world.

Mazda has always been engaged in transforming itself, as shown in the Company’s Corporate Vision, which defines its spirit as follows: “We will continue to tackle challenges.” For example, in my previous year’s “Third-Party Opinion,” I indicated points that needed to be improved by the Company. Mazda has accepted my suggestions with sincerity and has steadily responded to the issues that I raised. In this fiscal year’s Sustainability Report, the Company’s measures in response to those issues are described in many places. Specifically, in Feature Story 2, Mazda explains its new initiatives in response to one of my suggestions, “Mazda should provide details about the problems that the Company is conscious of when implementing programs,” by introducing the latest examples.

Mazda is a global company which sells its products in more than 130 countries and regions, with production facilities in seven countries. Because of this, I would like to point out some issues for the Company to consider to further evolve its efforts regarding sustainability.

The first issue concerns CSR Policy. Although the “Basic Approach” toward CSR initiatives is described based on the Corporate Vision, no CSR Policy is specified. The Company has already defined policies that are included in CSR, relating to environment, social contribution, quality, and personal data protection. I believe that Mazda should have a CSR Policy to form the basis for these individual policies. When observing companies all over the world, a CSR Policy seems to be an essential element. Especially when a riskrelated issue arises, the fact whether a company has a CSR Policy or not affects the swiftness of reaction and ensuring of reliability. If a company has a Policy, necessary decisions can be made promptly, even on difficult-to-judge issues, at individual sites and facilities worldwide on the basis of the Policy, without asking Head Office or management for judgment at every step. Because this will enable the decentralization or dispersion of CSR decision-making, I would like to strongly ask Mazda to consider this issue.

The next issue is about materiality. Mazda has reviewed and specified the key areas of CSR initiatives (materiality). Although there are many types of materiality determination process, it is very important to engage stakeholders further in the process to reveal potential issues. Mazda has indicated to me that it will set up a regular review on this matter. I would like to suggest that the Company should conduct an evaluation, during such a review, based on opinions collected directly from a wide range of people, including employees and stakeholders both in Japan and other countries. The Company already has various channels to allow stakeholder engagement. I hope that it will make effective use of these channels.

Finally, there is one more thing that I would like Mazda to address. As indicated in the Top Message, the Company regards the establishment of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 as a great turning point in the social movement. The SDGs are different from the previous Millennium Development Goals in that they require the private sector, as well as international organizations and civil society, to contribute to solving global development issues. They call for global concerted efforts to realize a better future by 2030. I have heard that Mazda is now discussing plans on how to respond to the SDGs. I strongly hope that the Company will gain a greater perception of reliability worldwide by addressing these issues, while not forgetting a “sense of excitement” that’s unique to Mazda.