Toyo Beauty Co., Ltd
CSR Promotion Office Manager
For more than 80 years since its founding in 1941 in Osaka, Japan, Toyo Beauty has focused on beauty and health through the development, manufacturing, and sale of cosmetics. It is a well-established company performing both Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) and Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) for major domestic and international manufacturers.
Experienced in managing the end-to-end process, from planning and development to the manufacturing of high-quality, functional cosmetics, the company is proud of its extensive research and development capabilities. It manufactures its products at several plants with cutting-edge production equipment.
The company first completed the EcoVadis assessment in 2019 and received a Silver Medal. Since then, the company has continued its efforts, earning a Silver Medal in 2020 and 2022. We interviewed Kensuke Wakabayashi, CSR Promotion Office Manager, about how the EcoVadis assessment has supported the company as it strives to become a sustainable and industry-leading brand.
Please tell us about your company's commitment to sustainability and the start of your sustainability journey.
I joined the company in 2019, starting on the administration team and eventually became its General Manager. As an ODM and OEM company, we receive various client requests such as sustainability surveys, audits, and assessments. With little knowledge of sustainability, there needed to be a dedicated department for such requests. Given this, the general affairs and legal staff of the administration team took the lead.
In October 2022, growing public interest in sustainability led to the creation of a new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team. Since then, as CSR Promotion Office Manager, I have been developing sustainability-related projects. At first, there was a lot I had to learn about sustainability. I did so by reading books and listening to experts, and gradually accumulated knowledge that way.
Toyo Beauty has been awarded the EcoVadis Silver Medal 4 times since 2019. How do you feel about this experience and recognition of your sustainability efforts?
When creating the CSR team, we often discussed what initiatives we needed to prioritize and implement. The EcoVadis assessment served as a roadmap for us. The specific scores, such as environment and human rights, have been beneficial in understanding our company's standing and prioritizing initiatives.
For example, we initially started by calculating our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which was possible through successful collaboration across the relevant business units. We plan to disclose our Scope 1 and 2 baseline and goals next year. We have also established a strategy for sustainability activities and have formalized a policy on human rights. Additionally, we have launched a new website dedicated to sustainability to help further communicate our efforts to our employees, customers, and broader stakeholders.
Sustainability rating companies exist around the world. However, getting assessed by a well-known organization directly translates into trust from business partners. One of our clients, a major global cosmetics manufacturer, also asked us to be assessed by EcoVadis. Sometimes, in the surveys we receive from our partners, we are told that companies that have received an EcoVadis assessment are not required to respond. Such instances make us happy to have done it.
The fact that our scores improved with each assessment also made us realize the importance of continuity. By proactively disclosing and sharing our scores, more employees, including management, are becoming aware of the assessment and the desire to improve our sustainability efforts is continuing to spread.
Given your efforts, it seems like there is a growing awareness of sustainability within the company. Can you tell us more about this?
We are committed to reporting to management the results of our various assessments and audits on an ongoing basis, including EcoVadis. Consequently, I believe this provides opportunities for key internal stakeholders, including board members, to be aware of our sustainability progress and key priorities, which leads to greater engagement and executive sponsorship of initiatives. Such buy-in is essential to a sustainability assessment, as it requires us to submit documentation including data, reports, and records of our activities from across the organization. To complete a reassessment in 2023, we asked relevant departments within the company to submit the necessary documents. I was surprised that many documents, far more than I had expected, came from factories and other business units.
For example, the factories not only hold seminars on health and safety and disaster prevention for foreign members who are not fluent in Japanese, but also prepare translated guidebooks and routinely conduct ongoing Japanese language education. Such initiatives resulted in the accumulation of many comprehensive documents. Rather than having to obtain one-off pieces of evidence, we were able to gather a lot of documents showcasing proactive initiatives. Amid the comprehensive application process, that was rather encouraging. Creating sustainability and sustainability initiatives may seem daunting initially, with the belief that you must make them from scratch. But I feel that they can be tied into the concept of "sampo yoshi" (three-way satisfaction between the seller, buyer, and society) that Japanese companies have long cherished.
Therefore, if we look within the company with an understanding of the underlying concepts of CSR and sustainability, there are many that we have already implemented. For us, the EcoVadis assessment was an opportunity to rediscover our initiatives that had not been in the spotlight before.
How do you intend to use the EcoVadis assessment to promote sustainability in the future?
Although awareness is growing within the company, there are still different levels of enthusiasm among branches and instances where employees need to see a clear link between their role and our sustainability strategy.
I would like to make it more widely known within the company why an assessment by EcoVadis is necessary and its significance. I think assessed companies must understand this and "apply together" rather than just having the person in charge be responsible for the end-to-end process.
I was told by someone outside the company, "It's great that Toyo Beauty earned the EcoVadis Silver Medal" and it made me realize what an outstanding achievement it is. I would like to be more proactive in communicating the significance of receiving the Silver Medal both internally and externally in the future.
What advice would you give to companies that want to advance their sustainability efforts?
Our company still has a ways to go in the area of sustainability, and we are not in a position to give advice just yet. In the words of one of our factory managers, sustainability is "the most important thing we can do”, and we want to ensure we implement initiatives that have a meaningful impact. An outside consulting firm could quickly produce a sustainability report. However, when it comes to the essence of our sustainability strategy, we want to properly address key topics and issues.
What exactly do you mean by "properly addressing" sustainability?
That is a difficult question. I think we need to go beyond the formalities and tackle the issue head-on and with sincerity. For example, when a business partner requests us to endorse or commit to a sustainability policy, we do not want to respond superficially, but instead sincerely communicate the current situation and honestly discuss it.
Even if we cannot immediately achieve the result that they are targeting, we can show our sincerity and care and that we will make every effort to achieve it. Demonstrating a positive attitude is critical to building long-term trust.
While it is essential to produce high-quality products and to be competitive with delivery time and price, we are experiencing firsthand that this alone is not enough to win clients and increase sales. We want to continue to make sincere efforts, one step at a time, so that our internal and external stakeholders will feel we are a socially responsible company.
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