Responding to People and Society as a Good Corporate Citizen

Young People Programme conducted by Canon Europe

Management Approach

Work as a good corporate citizen to help realize a better society

Why It Matters

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The wave of globalization that has swept the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has prompted many firms in the manufacturing industry to internationalize management structures and establish operations overseas. The expansion of the global economy, however, has caused various societal issues to emerge, including increases in poverty and inequality along with a range of labor-related problems. Yet the wave of globalization is expected to continue going forward.

Deriving around 80% of sales outside Japan, Canon has extensively globalized its business activities. In developing business globally, the important thing is to manage operations in accordance with local and regional cultural practices, behavioral norms and modes of thinking.

For instance, global utilization of head office employment systems would not necessarily work well overseas. While working to expand our business globally, we think it makes sense to follow the local or regional cultural and workplace customs when creating management structures and running operations.

“Respect for people” has been part of Canon's corporate philosophy since its founding in 1937. As our business developed globally, in 1988 we established Kyosei as the foundational philosophy that would guide our business activities. Kyosei refers to the aspiration of creating a society in which all people, regardless of race, language or culture, live and work together harmoniously for the common good into the future. Undertaking multifaceted initiatives to respond to people and society is thus an essential part of ensuring the sustainable growth of a business.

We believe this thinking is also consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a set of targets for global society to achieve through collective action.

In recent years, the media have highlighted various instances of corporate malfeasance, including poor product quality and falsified test data, sparking increased customer concerns about manufacturers. Canon is fully committed to ensuring the safety and usability of its products. We regard continuous efforts to create high added value and gain the trust of customers as the duty of a manufacturer, so we will do our utmost to fulfill the expectations of all stakeholders.

Canon's Approach

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Recognizing “Responding to People and Society as a Good Corporate Citizen” as an essential materiality theme, Canon undertakes a broad range of related business initiatives. Within this, we are developing activities as outlined below to respond to heightened stakeholder expectations in recent years in the areas of “Human Rights and Labor,” “Product Responsibility,” and “Social Contribution.”

For “Human Rights and Labor,” we are working to ensure all employees across the Canon Group can enjoy workplaces in which individuals with varied backgrounds and values are respected and each employee feels secure and highly motivated to work. Our initiatives in this area are divided into the subthemes of “Respecting Human Rights,” “Hiring and Treatment of Human Resources,” “Diversity and Inclusion,” “Occupational Safety and Health Support,” and “Human Resource Development and Personal Growth”.

On the issue of “Product Responsibility,” we are seeking to build customer trust by focusing on the areas of “Quality Management,” “Ensuring Product Safety,” and “Improving Product Usability”.

For “Social Contribution,” Canon is developing activities that utilize in-house technology, business expertise and human resources covering the fields of “Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief,” “Environmental Conservation,” “Social Welfare,” “Local Communities,” “Education and Science,” and “Art, Culture and Sports”.

Continuous Risk/Opportunity Appraisal

With ESG (environment, social and governance) increasingly used in corporate valuation, there is a growing expectation that companies will cultivate meaningful links with society in their business activities, and with local communities especially. When companies neglect to do this, it often leads to erosion of customer trust. Recognizing this risk, we view sincere initiatives in “Responding to People and Society as a Good Corporate Citizen” as a key factor behind sustainable business growth.

Based on this thinking, we identify the following risks and opportunities in the three fields mentioned previously.

Human Rights and Labor

Situations where human rights are overlooked can significantly damage a company's reputation. These include any discrimination related to race, religion, nationality, gender, or age; any harmful or disrespectful behavior such as harassment; and any case in which overwork damages the health of an employee.

In mitigating such risks, we believe it is important to create a workplace environment that allows each employee to realize their full potential. Allowing each employee to utilize their unique strengths and viewpoints leads to more business opportunities, allowing the company to realize sustained growth.

Product Responsibility

Quality issues that affect customer safety can have a negative financial impact on the business or erode trust in the brand. Conversely, supplying products of high quality that meet customer needs while also developing innovative technologies to satisfy emerging requirements can yield immense growth opportunities.

Social Contribution

Poverty, educational inequality and other social issues can affect corporate recruitment capabilities, while also posing a risk to the growth of global markets.

Canon seeks not only to reinvest business profits into local communities, but also to develop a wide range of activities to address issues faced by these communities. Besides building trust, these social contribution activities are essential to sustainable development.

Relationship with SDGs

The materiality theme of “Responding to People and Society as a Good Corporate Citizen” incorporates a wide range of ways in which Canon can help to realize a sustainable society from the perspective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this section, we introduce SDG-related activities in the three fields of “Human Rights and Labor,” “Product Responsibility,” and “Social Contribution.”

Human Rights and Labor


Occupational health and safety is the foundation of Canon's business activities. The principle of putting health first was established at the company's inception, and activities to support employee health and safety continue today.


Recognizing the importance of continually creating new value by harnessing the talents of a diverse workforce, Canon actively promotes diversity and inclusion based on fair recruitment and promotion regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, or age.


Canon strives to ensure fair treatment of employees as part of retaining high-caliber personnel around the world and enabling them to continue to exercise their abilities. This involves maintaining systems to develop human resources and support the personal growth of employees.


Respect for the rights of others has been an integral part of Canon's corporate culture over its 80-year history. The Canon Group Code of Conduct clearly promotes respect for individuals while prohibiting all forms of discrimination and harassment across the Canon Group.

Product Responsibility


Canon strives to develop products that different customers can use easily and with confidence. To ensure product safety, we are working to reinforce internal legal/regulatory compliance systems across all Canon Group divisions, while also promoting activities to improve quality assurance from the development stage.

Social Contribution


As a corporate citizen with deep roots in local communities, Canon is involved in building schools to help instill children with knowledge and diverse values. We also engage in cross-cultural activities and programs to develop the next generation using cutting-edge technologies developed through our business activities.


Canon is engaged in a variety of social contribution activities to help address community-specific social issues and create environments in which all people can lead satisfying lives.

Overview of Material Issues and Activities in 2018

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Human Rights and Labor

Respecting Human Rights

We continued to work throughout the Canon Group to create workplaces that are free of discrimination and harassment.

Hiring and Treatment of Human Resources

We continued to focus on initiatives for making workplaces more attractive by upgrading employee welfare programs and facilitating better work-life balance.

Diversity and Inclusion

We continued to focus on initiatives that support workplace diversity, including efforts to promote the active participation of women, LGBT persons and other sexual minorities at work; support local recruitment across all Canon Group operational sites; and create disabled-friendly workplaces.

Occupational Safety and Health Support

We continue to reinforce efforts to eliminate workplace accidents across Canon Group sites in Japan, based on the Canon Occupational Health and Safety Management System introduced in 2017. Labor and management continue to cooperate in ensuring workplace safety and supporting the health of workers, maintaining an environment in which every employee can work with peace of mind.

Human Resource Development and Personal Growth

Ongoing human resource development initiatives include the Canon Leadership Development Program, which was introduced in 2017 with the aim of cultivating the next generation of leaders within the company.

Product Responsibility

Quality Management

Our continued efforts to eliminate quality issues are led by a company-wide committee. Chaired by the President of Canon Inc. and including management executives from each business group, the committee focuses on improving product quality from the development stage. In addition, we continue to promote quality training for all employees and expand awareness-raising activities.

Ensuring Product Safety

At Canon, our internal QA management standards go beyond legal and regulatory requirements as a guarantee of safety and peace of mind to our customers. This approach also means ensuring that we can evaluate product safety thoroughly and accurately.

Improving Product Usability

We are continually focused on a range of initiatives to improve the usability of products, services and apps. These include field-testing and interviews to gain customer feedback, an in-house product tester system, and evaluations by usability experts.

Social Contribution

Canon developed a variety of educational support initiatives in 2018, such as the Miraisha Programme, the Young People Programme, and the 4E's Project. The aim is to support the education of young people who are building the future of local communities.

We promoted activities to enable the sustainable development of communities based on supporting initiatives that address local or regional issues and related needs. This included making financial donations and helping to raise funds for people affected by major natural disasters worldwide. In Japan, as part of the Tsuzuri Project, we established a joint research project with the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties, part of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage aimed at giving more people the opportunity to develop a greater appreciation of major cultural assets.

  • Respecting Human Rights
  • Hiring and Treatment of Human Resources
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Occupational Safety and Health Support
  • Human Resource Development and Personal Growth
  • Data Summary
  • Quality Management
  • Ensuring Product Safety
  • Improving Product Usability
  • Social Contribution Activities
  • Collected Data