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[Build an organization with integrity]

Promoting the Concept of Integrity and Sharing Values in the East Asia Bloc

Mitsui & Co. believes that, in business, trust is most important. In order to maintain and enhance trust, besides compliance with laws, regulations, and rules, it is also vital for employees to be aware of the need for integrity, in terms of one’s own conscience and dignity.

To ensure that values relating to integrity and compliance are shared throughout the Mitsui & Co. group, we put together the Mitsui & Co. Group Conduct Guidelines—With Integrity in 2018, in which we revisit our approach to integrity and compliance, and shared it with group companies around the world. In order for the Mitsui & Co. group to continue to be a corporate group that is genuinely trusted by society, we are taking steps on a global group basis to build an organization with integrity, in which individual employees will act with integrity.

In promoting the “With Integrity” conduct guidelines globally, translating “With Integrity” into local languages is certainly important, as is taking the initiative to conduct activities at the local level related to the conduct guidelines. Of these activities, in the East Asia Bloc comprising the Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taiwan units, the Compliance Leader Meeting, held with the participation of branches, offices, and intrabloc affiliated companies, forms the core of our engagement efforts, and we are making a powerful push to build an organization with integrity.

Integrity is acting with intention in order to earn respect and trust

Workshop held at an affiliated company to promote “With Integrity” (October 2019) Workshop held at an affiliated company to promote “With Integrity” (October 2019)

In the East Asia Bloc, we have built a compliance promotion system with the Chief Representative of the East Asia Bloc as the Compliance Supervising Officer, and we conduct various compliance-related activities under the responsibility of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) of the East Asia Bloc. In the Legal Division of Mitsui & Co. (China) Ltd. where I work, we handle putting together the aforementioned system, respond when compliance violations and other incidents arise, and promote the concept of integrity and compliance to employees as the organization supporting the CCO.

We believe that integrity for companies is established based on the integrity demonstrated by individual employees, so in conducting activities to promote integrity we are focusing on having individuals enhance their integrity, which means getting individuals to think about what they should do to be respected by others and by society and acting accordingly. We often hear from employees that they are able to understand the main points of “With Integrity,” but they do not know what to do in terms of specific actions in real life. “With Integrity” is written as conduct guidelines to follow in situations where it is difficult to make decisions, and we further ask employees to consult someone they can trust when they do not know what to do, instead of worrying about the problem alone. By consulting someone they can trust who has a strong sense of integrity, they can be more certain of their decision. As a start, we in the Legal Division want to be those who are trusted and to whom others can turn for advice about anything.

Promoting our values also at branches, offices, and affiliated companies through discussion

One of our most important compliance activities in the East Asia Bloc is the Compliance Leader Meeting held regularly in each regional unit, with the inclusion of branches, offices and affiliated companies. The meeting, attended by the Chief Representative of East Asia Bloc, President and the CCO of East Asia Bloc, is a venue to directly communicate the importance of integrity and compliance, as well as an opportunity where employees from different group entities can discuss and share their views on integrity and compliance. Almost all employees from branches in China and affiliated companies participate in the meeting.

Having participants acquire a more practical understanding of integrity is an area of focus during the Compliance Leader Meeting, and domestic and international examples of incidents involving integrity are used, with participants thinking about and discussing what course of action should be taken during the meeting. To build an organization with integrity, however, discussing integrity once or twice a year is not enough; and activities that prompt people to maintain a constant awareness of integrity are required. To achieve this, we believe that by having people who have a strong sense of integrity present in the various workplaces, their integrity will organically spread to other employees as well, and we are now exploring ways to maximize their influence.

Further challenge as recognition of integrity rises

We conduct a compliance awareness survey every other year in the East Asia Bloc, and the results of this survey show that recognition of integrity is rising. I feel that the concept of integrity is becoming established among employees, and recently I was pleased to learn that “With Integrity” was mentioned in casual conversations of employees. We also view the “speak up” concept, in which employees who feel that something is wrong speak up about it, as an effective means to discover problems at an early stage. After continuous communication encouraging employees to use the internal whistleblowing system, the number of reports and consultations is trending higher, and we are in the process of developing a more open internal environment in which employees feel comfortable about using the system.

A current challenge is promoting activities at affiliated companies. Corporations that are joint investors in an affiliated company often have different corporate cultures, and I sense the difficulty of promoting our group’s values. Going forward, we will address this to create more effective promotion activities by coordinating with the legal divisions of affiliated companies and meeting directly with the legal divisions of partner corporations that are joint investors.

Aiming for sustained growth with integrity ingrained in hearts and minds

For a corporate group to earn trust, it is becoming imperative that the group makes contributions through its business activities that benefit the entire world, without making the distinction of the countries and/or regions in which it is located. I believe that the values of “With Integrity,” which are a world standard, will definitely become one of our strengths.

The corporate group and its employees make one whole. If we can achieve a state in which the company is proud to have employees who act with integrity, and employees are proud to work at a company that acts with integrity, integrity within the organization will be continuously enhanced and the group will be able to achieve sustained growth. We will accelerate our efforts to this end.

Posted in August 2020