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For Panasonic to create innovation in its businesses across the world, it is becoming increasingly important to improve the mindset of its employees toward innovation as global citizens. To create a sustainable global environment and society, Panasonic is not only promoting its corporate activities as an enterprise but is also enhancing the support of volunteer activities carried out by its employees, their families on a global scale.
The Panasonic Innovation Volunteer Team (PIVoT) is one of our in-house pro bono groups. Leveraging Panasonic technologies and the skills gained by our employees, the team works together on solutions to the wide-ranging challenges faced by NGOs operating in emerging and developing countries.
Specifically, teams are made up of four to five Panasonic employees of varying experiences and expertise. One or two members from each team visit an NGO in an emerging country for a month beforehand as a local remaining member and, while liaising with remote team members in Japan and specialists from within and outside the company, work to solve local problems. Working at NPOs and social enterprises in emerging countries in Asia and Africa, employee skills are matched with the needs of the organizations centered on the three areas (environment/energy, education, healthcare) from which they can draw on their business experience at Panasonic.
These volunteer opportunities not only provide the local NPO/NGO partner(s) with much-needed human resource, business development, and problem-solving support, but they also provide challenging opportunities for our employees to contribute their knowledge and skills, gain new experiences, learn new cultures, and develop new relationships. Furthermore, PIVoT projects provide Panasonic with new insights about local sustainability issues that could inform our own product and service development efforts in emerging regions that are key to our future growth.
*Pro bono vefers to the provision of work-related expertise, skill's, and time for the benefit of society as a whole.
The two Panasonic employees inspect the power generation system.
In March 2013, two Panasonic employees traveled to Indonesia to support the operations of an NGO that is engaged in finding solutions to problems in the country's off-grid regions by the installation of small-scale hydroelectric power generators. They proposed plans for the effective use of the surplus power generated by the installed hydroelectric power generating equipment. The employees at the frontline were supported from Japan by three remote team members.
The more than 70% of the world's population that currently live on an income of less than eight dollars a day, and who are facing a variety of poverty-related social problems, are known by the term BOP (Base Of the Pyramid). Developing its products and businesses in key emerging regions, Panasonic cannot ignore the issues surrounding BOP, who account for the majority. At the BOP Solution-Finding Workshop, targeted at employees who thought they would like contribute to help finding a solution, participants gained a deeper understanding of the problems in emerging and developed countries and consideration was given to the problems and needs on the frontline and to approaches through Panasonic's businesses.
The fiscal 2013 workshop was attended by 33 employees from a wide range of work backgrounds within Panasonic as a whole, including sales, engineering, development, accounting, design, and legal. On the subject of India they gave proposals for business divisions related to "creating a business idea to solve social problems in India's rural areas."
Panasonic launched the Panasonic NPO Support Pro Bono Program in Japan in April 2011. This program is a social contribution initiative where employees use their work skills and experiences to offer support to NPOs. As at May 2013, 86 employees were registered on the program. In fiscal 2013, 29 employees offered their support to five NPOs and engaged in such activities as formulating business plans, website redesign, and the creation of marketing materials. The NPOs that received support included organizations operating in the areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. This program aims to make use of the skills and experiences acquired by Panasonic Group employees for the benefit of society at large, to support the strengthening of NPOs' business development capabilities that are engaged in finding solutions to social problems, and to bring greater achievements to NPOs. By having employees gain awareness from participating on the frontline in efforts to find solutions to local social problems, the program also seeks to improve their capabilities as global citizens, so that they reach the stage where as citizens they are able to reflect on solutions to social problems of a global scale.
A forum was held in Osaka in November 2012 to widely share the significance and achievements of the pro bono system. As the forum was attended by pro bono workers who had participated in the program and NPOs that had received support in 2012, the talk was of the experiences that only people involved in the Pro Bono Program can gain, the possibilities that pro bono presents, and of broadening the program to western Japan. The forum was attended by around 110 interested members of society, students, and people involved with NPOs.
Panasonic encourages employees and their families as well as retired employees all over the world to participate in volunteer activities. Under the name Panasonic ECO RELAY for Sustainable Earth, the Company promotes efforts that bring together people, communities and activities on a global scale. In fiscal 2013, approximately 1,100,000 trees were planted on a global basis. This brings the aggregate total to around 4,061,000 trees since 2007. Looking ahead, ongoing efforts will be made to protect the natural environment in partnership with local communities.
For details of specific activities, please refer to "Environment:Contribution to Local Communities and Education for the Next Generation."