The Suntory Group strives to create an organization and a corporate culture that place the highest priority on compliance to fulfill our responsibilities and meet the expectations of our customers and society.
We are building a compliance promotion system to realize our corporate philosophy from a cross-Group view based on this.
Policies and Our Approach
Suntory Group Code of Business Ethics: The fundamental principles shared by all employees for the realization of the corporate philosophy
The Suntory Group Corporate Ethics Code was established in 2003 and indicates the fundamental priniples that all employees must share. We are building a compliance promotion system to realize our corporate philosophy from a cross-Group view based on this Code of Business Ethics. We also revised the content by referring to the ISO26000 international standard for social responsibility in 2012 and adapted the content in 2017 for all Group employees around the world to better understand it.
Promotion System Rooted in the Frontlines
To promote compliance from a cross-Group perspective, the Compliance Department was established under the Risk Management Division to specifically promote compliance.
The Compliance Department formulates and implements specific measures in line with Risk Management Division policies, monitors the status of implementation at each workplace, and provides suggestions and advice on issues. It also established a Compliance Hotline (internal reporting system) and is responding fairly, impartially, and in good faith. We have revised some of the rules for the internal reporting system to operate more effectively under this system following revisions to the Whistleblower Protection Act. As a result of such efforts, the Suntory Group Compliance Hotline (in Japan) was registered for the first time in the Japanese liquor industry in the "Internal Reporting System Certification" established by the Consumer Affairs Agency in January 2020.
In addition, specific personnel responsible for promoting compliance are assigned at each Group company, both within Japan and abroad. They take an active role in promoting compliance, formulating policy customized for the circumstances in their own company, and informing colleagues about that policy.
Compliance Promotiing Structure
Enhancing the Hotline for Early Discovery and Resolution of Problems
The basic rule in Suntory is that when an employee discovers actions that breach the Suntory Group’s Code of Business Ethics, he or she must first report it to the supervisors and seek their advice.
However, we have also established a Compliance Hotline both internally (our Compliance Office) and externally (3rd party law firm) as contact point for all of the Group companies in Japan in order to quickly discover and resolve compliance issues when reporting or consulting with a supervisor is not appropriate.A multilingual support system is in place so that foreign employees who are not good at Japanese can use it.
We have also implemented a global contact point for compliance issues encompassing all Group companies in Japan and globally as part of our global risk management system.
This contact point supports multiple languages such as English, Chinese, and Spanish, and accepts reports and consultations from multiple countries. Additionally, in order to avoid accessibility issues due to technical or financial reasons, we have made this mechanism accessible to all employees through different methods (digital and analog), including web, smartphones, telephone, and mail.
The internal awareness of this mechanism is measured every year through initiatives such as the "Employee Awareness Survey" as a way to engage users and assess the current mechanism, and the current awareness rate is over 90%. We also strive to keep improving the awareness rate and accessibility of this mechanism by sharing these results (including comparisons with previous year) with our top management.
In 2022, a total of 215 reports were received through these contact points in Japan and overseas (99 reports were received by Suntory Beverage & Food Group). Roughly 60% of the reports received in Japan were about labor, personnel and management issues, including human rights related issues.
If there is a suspicion of non-compliance based on the content of the report, we take into consideration the privacy protection of all persons involved in accordance with the Suntory Group Internal Reporting System Regulations. In that case, the compliance officer promptly conducts a confidential investigation within the company, and promptly requests correction while escalating to the relevant executive in charge, so that measures can be taken as soon as possible in order to avoid any negative impact to the reporter. The results of the survey are shared to the reporter and management, respectively, to promote corrective measures and prevent recurrence. After a certain period of time has passed after the response, we close the case once we receive a report on the state of change from senior management as a follow-up.
Furthermore, regarding measures against harassment, which is a priority issue, in many cases there is a difference in values with colleagues and related parties, so we aim to create a culture where both sides can recognize the difference by providing an opportunity to learn about unconscious bias and in this respect we are holding seminars to promote a more tolerant organization.
Protecting the Reporters
Based on our internal regulations, the Suntory Group prohibits any type of negative impact such as retaliation or spread of rumors and does not force confidentiality on the reporters. In order to achieve this, when the Compliance Office conducts an investigation it identifies the persons concerned and then confirms the "internal reporting system regulations“, protecting thus the rights of the reporter. In addition, during the interviews with the reporter on the closing of each case, we also check that reporters have not suffered any disadvantages during the process. Furthermore, we are working to create a culture in which compliance reports are protected not only by the persons concerned but also by the entire workplace by proactively disseminating the "internal reporting system regulations" within the company on a daily basis.
Compliance Hotline Response Flow
Activities to Ensure Compliance
Communicating the Code of Business Ethics throughout the Group
To facilitate the understanding of the Suntory Group Philosophy and Code of Business Ethics and put them in practice, we distribute a pamphlet to all Suntory Group officers and employees. This pamphlet is translated into 11 languages.
At the start of each year, employees of the Group companies in Japan refreshes their understanding of the Code, and then signs a compliance statement at the end of the pamphlet. At the same time, workplace discussions regarding various compliance related cases that occur in the society, subjects that are recognized as issues in the Group and individual companies, and other topics are held to remind the fundamentals of compliance and promote ethical behavior.
In employee awareness surveys conducted for Suntory Group employees in Japan, we were able to verify our businesses and offices run in accordance with Suntory Group’s Code of Business Ethics as well as confirm the status of compliance practices. Suntory strives to discover any potential compliance breaches by reporting the results of these surveys to management while regularly ensuring the effectiveness of Suntory Group’s Code of Business Ethics and taking advantage of these results in efforts that include education for employees and the formulation of activity plans.
Activities to Raise Compliance Awareness through Communication
We put out periodic information on the Compliance Net internal intranet to promote and practice true compliance. The Compliance Net provides information on themes linked to the activities being undertaken at the time, as well as content that helps employees understand the essence of compliance through case studies from around the world. We raise the awareness of every employee through the activities of compliance promotion managers in each company. In addition, we publish information that promotes the basic knowledge of compliance, harassment checks, and a collection of materials for self-study in order to make learning accessible at any time on the Compliance Net.
Supporting Promotion Activities at Group Companies
Each Group company is engaged in activities around compliance promotion managers. The Compliance Department provides suggestions and tools tailored to the challenges of each company, implements group training and offers other measures of support. In addition, we have introduced research to more deeply recognize our role as the driving force of compliance management for directors and managers who are newly appointed at Group companies in Japan.
Insider Trading Prevention Systems: Implementation and Communication
The Risk Management Department of Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. and the management headquarters of Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. are working to comprehensively prevent insider trading by introducing e-learning based on the content provided by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Implementing the Suntory Group Code of Business Ethics in Business Activities
We have clarified our emphasis on compliance in the Code of Business Ethics. Each department has set and is operating policies and voluntary standards for challenges related to various compliance in their business activities based on the concepts of the Code of Business Ethics.
Ensuring Fair Business Practices
The Suntory Group conducts business fairly, holding integrity as a prerequisite, and abides by all laws and regulations, including the Antimonopoly Act. Since the formulation of the Guideline for Compliance of the Antimonopoly Act in 1992, we have revised and implemented the guideline in accordance with revisions of laws and changes in the environment. We are working to ensure thorough awareness of and compliance with the Anti-Monopoly Act and related laws and regulations by posting on our intranet the Key Points to Consider for the Promotion Campaigns under the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations and our Compliance Manual for the Act against Delay in Payment of Subcontract Proceeds and by holding regular briefings for each division and group company.
To ensure fairness in our day-to-day activities with suppliers and customers, our specialized departments are actively involved from the planning stages of product development, sales, and marketing, and verify the response policies and activities of related departments from the perspective of legal compliance.
Establishing Committees to Promote Fair Business for Alcoholic Beverages
A Fair Trade Promotion Committee was established to promote fair business practices at Suntory Liquors Ltd., the Suntory Group company responsible for the sale of alcoholic beverages. This was done in keeping with the Fair Practice Guidelines for the Liquor Business* and to maintain compliance with laws and regulations specific to alcoholic beverages as well as internal proprietary standards.
*The Fair Practice Guidelines for the Liquor Business are administrative guidelines established by the National Tax Agency in 2006. These guidelines prevent worsening of management of liquor business operators and the reduction of liquor taxes due to dumping caused by excessive competition. We set fair partnership conditions and make rebates more transparent to stabilize management of liquor business operators. This is also coordinated by Fair Business Committee responsible for overseeing the Antimonopoly Act.
Transparency of Business Activities and Prevention of Bribery
The Suntory Group’s Code of Conduct prohibits the provision of excessive business entertainment and gift-giving to any counterpart regardless of whether it is a corporate entity, individual, political or governmental entity, or any other related organization or company, and establishes that relationships with all parties should comply with laws and be fair and transparent.
We also regularly provide training opportunities such as e-learning for employees who may be involved in corruption.
For more information on the Anti-Bribery, see Risk Management.
Global Compliance Initiatives
We work to build a global compliance promotion system and integrate global standards due to the global expansion of the Suntory Group.
In 2015, we formulated the guidelines on business entertainment and gift-giving that are aligned with global standards, and we provide seminars and e-learning courses on the prevention of bribery and all types of corruption comprehensively to raise the awareness of employees on corruption issues as our response to global enhancement of anti-corruption regulations, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
In 2016, We have formulated a global Anti-Bribery Policy which includes new provisions on donations and political contributions in addition to entertainment and bribery.
Furthermore this year, we have established “Suntory Group Global Hotline" to contact points to handle reports on bribery and all types of corruption comprehensively, as well as human rights violations and other compliance breaches. These contact points are available at all overseas Group companies as part of our global compliance system.
In 2019, we conducted e-learning for all employees in Japan to reconfirm the guidelines, and obtained a pledge to comply with the guidelines. And regarding overseas, we prepared and trained countermeasures such as anti-bribery and cyber security to foster a unique local compliance mindset, especially for managers in Shanghai, China, which have many state-owned enterprises, and bribery to the private sector can be subject to punishment.
In 2022, there were 58 reports to the “Suntory Group Global Hotline”. In each business country, awareness of this point of contact is gradually increasing, however there were no reports on child or forced labor.
Employee Awareness Survey to Understand the Awareness Towards Compliance and the Organizational Culture
To understand the status of compliance and the organizational culture as well as to determine if there are any individual issues, we conduct awareness surveys for all Group employees in Japan. We investigate initiatives to promote awareness of compliance through the entire Group by understanding the challenges in each company and each department from these results. We share the discovered challenges with directors and managers at each company, and expect that related departments in these companies will take voluntary actions to resolve these challenges.
Overseas Group companies contribute to compliance management by conducting their own independent surveys.