Shiseido: Making Women Happy
Saturday, February 10, 2007 Posted: 09:01 AM JST
(by Eriko Saijo) - Shiseido Co., a leading Japanese cosmetics company, was originally established as a pharmacy in 1872. The company entered the cosmetics business in 1897 with the launch of its "Eudermine" skincare lotion; this product has been on the market since then - for 110 years - and is still available today. Shiseido now sells cosmetics in 70 countries, and has 11 factories and seven research and development facilities overseas. With about 3,200 employees (with 25,800 in the Shiseido group), its sales for the fiscal year ending March 2006 amounted to 671 billion yen (US$ about 5.6 billion).
"As a cosmetics company, what can and should Shiseido do to help establish a sustainable society?" Shiseido has been asking itself this question, and aims to contribute to making people happy in the context of its corporate character. In 2004, the company established a corporate social responsibility (CSR) department and adopted the key concepts "Cosmetics," "Women," and "Cultural Capital (a Sense of Beauty)," as appropriate to its line of business.
Cosmetics can heal, encourage, and comfort, as well as contribute to a more attractive appearance. Also, 70 percent of Shiseido's employees and 90 percent of its customers are women. The corporate philosophy behind these 3 key concepts animates Shiseido's desire to bring happiness to women through its cosmetics, helping them create a beautiful appearance and a healthy lifestyle by introducing new aesthetic styles and lifestyle values based on its long-accumulated experience. Also, these are the areas in which Japanese society expects Shiseido to be active.
As part of its social contribution activities, for over ten years Shiseido has been conducting "therapy makeup" services for people with birthmarks, scars, or areas lacking pigmentation on their faces. Therapy makeup uses cosmetics to ease problems such people might have with their appearance, not simply by covering up blemishes, but as psychological support for relieving anxiety and depression and restoring self-confidence.
Therapy makeup specialists provide free consultations to clients, and instruct them how to apply makeup. Shiseido developed an easy-to-use foundation "Perfect Cover," for therapy makeup use, and in 2006 it established the "Shiseido Social Beauty Care Center" in Tokyo. In this way the company made it easy for clients to receive consultation. Shiseido Social Beauty Care Center: http://www.shiseido.co.jp/sbcc/ (only in Japanese)
Shiseido also set up the "Shiseido Social Contribution Club Hanatsubaki Fund" (hanatsubaki means "camellia flower," a reference to the company logo) in 2005, which has been steadily accumulating funds through regular payroll donations from employees who wish to support social contribution activities. The Club's steering committee is managed by employees who volunteer or are nominated.
The company also donates funds and provides its products to the organizations receiving support from the Hanatsubaki Fund; employees also participate in activities of these organizations as volunteers. The company would ideally like to see the circle of "good corporate citizens" expand, and reacts flexibly to input from stake-holders in the Shiseido group who agree to the Club's aims even when they are not official members.
As a shareholder benefit, the company offers shareholders the option of contributing funds to organizations supported by Club funds; it also set up a system through which former employees can participate in Club-supported activities.
In 2005, the Hanatsubaki Fund provided a total of 11.16 million yen (US$93,800) in financial aid to the following organizations: the United Nations Development Fund for Women, for the independence of women in Afghanistan; the World Wide Fund for Nature, for forest conservation activities; the National Women's Shelter Network (of Japan), for the eradication of violence against women; the Shiseido Social Welfare Foundation, for better welfare support for women and children of future generations; and the Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) Society Japan.
XP is an intractable disease whose patients are at a higher risk of developing cancer caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Many XP patients also suffer from neurological disorders, which lead to problems in walking and breathing. No effective treatment has yet been established, and it is estimated there are hundreds of patients in Japan. Patients are forced to lead difficult lives because they have to avoid UV exposure by scrupulously applying sunscreen and wearing UV-block clothing to slow the progression of their symptoms.
As a cosmetic manufacturer, Shiseido has been providing continuous support to XP patients for protecting their skin from UV radiation through the donation of sunscreen creams, volunteer activities by employees, and financial aid. The company hopes to continue contributing to the XP Society in its capacity as a skin care product manufacturer.
As a way of incorporating environmental considerations into its products, Shiseido is now working on the issue of recycling used glass cosmetic bottles. In Japan, recycling of glass beverage bottles is advancing, but most glass cosmetic containers are still discarded in landfills. This is due to the differences in the composition of different manufacturers' glass containers, which makes it difficult to produce recycled glass bottles at a specific level of quality.
In 2001, the company started to collect used glass bottles at over 10,000 participating retail outlets around the country. Recyclable bottles are sorted out manually and crushed into cullet by a recycling company and recycled into bottles for Shiseido products by glass bottle manufacturers.
In 2006, 121 tons of glass bottles were collected, accounting for 2 percent of the total used by Shiseido. The company has been addressing various tasks such as improving the collection rate and reducing recycling costs, with the ultimate goal of establishing a recycling system for used cosmetic bottles throughout the society.
Looking at Shiseido's other initiatives focusing on women, it is clear that greater participation in society by women has been promoted across the board in Japan. However, continuing to work while raising children remains a significant burden for many women, and the number of female employees who participate in corporate management is still quite small. Under these circumstances, Shiseido has taken various initiatives to create a better working environment for female employees with children, as a company dedicated to supporting women's happiness.
One of its unique initiatives is the establishment of an online program called "wiwiw" that provides support to female workers on maternity leave. Through this program, the company provides knowledge about childcare as well as training in any new skills women may need to return to work. The program has expanded to include 110 companies.
Employees on maternity leave from companies providing this program have access to online courses for developing business skills, helpful hints on balancing work and child-rearing, message boards relating company news, and information-sharing networks of other "wiwiw" users. These services help relieve the anxieties of child-rearing and encourage mothers to go back to work. Companies also find it easier to manage employees on maternity leave and provide them with relevant information through the program. At Shiseido, the "wiwiw" program has helped about 500 female employees return to their jobs.
In 2006, Shiseido opened a child care support center at its head office's health care facility. This center provides consultations on pregnancy and child care to employees nationwide via e-mail and telephone.
To support beauty consultants who give professional advice and sell products at retail stores, in 2006 the company started employing part-time workers to relieve beauty consultants who want extra time for child care during evening hours. These part-timers are called Kangaroo Staff and start work after two to three weeks of professional training.
Beauty consultants directly serve customers at stores. Support for balancing work and child-rearing had been a big issue for both employers and beauty consultants who have children. In order to secure daily childcare time for them, Shiseido plans to introduce the Kangaroo Staff System nationwide in fiscal 2007, hoping to eliminate all factors that prevent employees from enjoying their work.
Shiseido's corporate message is, "This moment. This life. Beautifully." Shiseido hopes to continue build up its experience in supporting women who are striving to live active, happy lives.
First published in February 2007 by Japan for Sustainability (JFS). Many thanks to JFS for their kind permission to reprint the article at iKjeld.com.
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