BreakThrough Study Idea

Driving the SDGs will give you an advantage in the race for talentKoichi Yokota

<Series 2 (Total 4 series)>

2020.03.17

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Addressing the SDGs will increase the sustainability of business—. In the previous article, we discussed the benefits of the SDGs. In fact, another major benefit is that it can lead to the acquisition of excellent human resources. Expert Koichi Yokota explained this point while giving specific examples.


◆What are the SDGs?
SDGs or the Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of global goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 for the years 2016 through 2030 under the "2030 Agenda for sustainable development." The agenda consists of 17 goals such as "poverty," "hunger," "climate change," "energy," and "education" and 169 targets laid down for specific targets under these 17 goals for achieving a sustainable society. They were adopted with the participation of more than 150 member state leaders to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) formulated in 2001. At the July 2017 session of the United Nations General Assembly, 232 indicators were adopted for measuring the progress of each of the targets.

17 goals of the SDGs (from the United Nations Information Centres website)

Identify your company's unique characteristics through SDGs initiatives

Ultimately, the biggest worries for companies are securing sales profits and acquiring excellent human resources. As we explained in the last article, the SDGs are directly related to business opportunities, and therefore are closely related to sales profits. Now, what about hiring talented human resources?

"Kaiho Sangyo Co., Ltd., which operates a car recycling business in Kanazawa, is frequently introduced as a successful example of addressing SDGs. The company exports parts from dismantled Japanese cars to ninety countries, with a focus on developing countries. By doing so, Kaiho Sangyo meets the demand for repair parts for Japanese cars running in foreign countries. The company's business activities create many jobs in local markets overseas. It seems that these achievements were noticed by a student at a top university. The student had a desire to work in a BoP* market after graduating. Ultimately, the student decided to apply to Kaiho Sangyo, despite the company being located in Kanazawa, an area to which the student had absolutely no relation."
*BoP (Base of the Economic Pyramid): A collective term for international business activities which are aimed at low-income earners and which solve social issues while securing profits.

Another outstanding example of local SMEs acquiring excellent human resources is NAKADAI Co., Ltd., which is engaged in the industrial waste treatment business in Maebashi City.

"Based on know-how cultivated in the industrial waste business, NAKADAI has established a consulting company that develops businesses for achieving reuse and recycling in compliance with the SDGs Goal 12 "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns." The consulting company is attracting outstanding human resources with high academic credentials. Another characteristic is that there are many women who are indispensable when considering the future of Japanese business."

Women account for about 40% of employees at NAKADAI. Furthermore, when the company recruited human resources for a new business with work consisting of proposing new uses of materials to the world, the ratio of applicants to job openings reached about 600.

"In the past, car dismantling and industrial waste treatment were not popular industries. Even in such industries, if we can use the SDGs as a starting point and identify characteristics unique to that company, it will be possible to attract talented human resources."

Two goals that SMEs should address first

Now, from among the 17 goals of the SDGs, which goals should SMEs address first? President Yokota points out Goal 8: "Decent work and economic growth."

"According to a certain survey, the percentage of people who feel job satisfaction in Japan is the lowest among developed countries. In recent years, work-style reform is frequently discussed in Japan. However, these reforms focus more on making work easier, not on improving job satisfaction. In order to increase job satisfaction, you need to experience how your job leads to personal growth, to feel a sense of accomplishment, and to feel appreciated by someone. When we consider how to increase job satisfaction in this way, we will also heighten the motivation of our employees."

Furthermore, President Yokota recommends that SMEs should be aware of Goal 5 "Achieve Gender Equality."

"Naogen Soysauce Co., Ltd., which is located in the city of Kanazawa, is focusing on incorporating female sensibility in its business through measures such as having women lead all product development. Needless to say, active recruitment of women is essential as the working-age population declines. Moreover, it is necessary to actively utilize other potential workers such as seniors and foreigners. A company will be able to easily handle changes by being conscious of diversity, and by being aware of diversity and inclusion that utilizes the differences of each person."


Series Galvanizing the "corporate middle class" in order to exist as a sustainable company after 2030

Series 1 Two reasons why SMEs should work on SDGs
Series 2 Driving the SDGs will give you an advantage in the race for talent
Series 3 Identifying business tips for social entrepreneurs who succeeded through collaboration
Series 4 Galvanizing the "corporate middle class" in order to exist as a sustainable company after 2030


Koichi Yokota
President, Yokota Associates, Inc./Project Professor, Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance

Entered Nikkei Inc. in 1988. After leaving Nikkei in 2011, he established Yokota Associates, Inc. Yokota has been a Project Professorr at the Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance since 2015. He is involved in branding, marketing, CSR, CSV, HRM, innovative fields, and work-style reform at numerous companies, as well as regional revitalization in various regions. Yokota also conducts numerous lectures on SDGs at the Japan National Commission for UNESCO, the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation (JAPAN), and training held at major companies.

◆ Main Written Works
"30 Keywords Changing Digital Workshift Marketing" (co-authored/Sangakusha Publishing) Published in 2018
"Tomorrow Will be Pioneered by Tomorrow" (co-authored/ Sekigakusha) Published in 2015
"Social Impact—Creating Shared Value (CSV) Changes Corporations, Business, and Work Style" (co-authored/Sangakusha Publishing) Published in 2014
"How to Created a Beloved Company" (co-authored/ Sekigakusha) Published in 2014

Coverage date January 9, 2019

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