Message from the President Sep.2007

a monthly magazine for our employee Sep.2007

Wake-Up Call on a “Society of Deception”

This year, the word “deception” seems to have become the industry buzzword in a negative sense. To be precise, its roots may be traced to the “scandal involving falsification of condominium earthquake-resistance data,” which was exposed two years ago. Recently, a number of cases of “food” fraud have come to light in quick succession: beef croquettes containing no beef; confectionary products made with ingredients whose use-by date has expired; eels from China, which are kept for a short while in Japan’s Lake Hamana and then shipped carrying the label “Raised in Shizuoka Prefecture”; and marbled beef made by injecting beef fat. Even on the food safety front--people’s lifeline--it has now become necessary for us to keep a sharp eye so that we won’t be misled by fake products. “Falsification” of office expenses by politicians had a great impact on the outcome of the recent House of Councilors election. And since last year, public attention has been drawn to a issue involving “fraudulent worker dispatch1 contracts” committed by some firms. These firms are engaged in the the industry of temporary worker dispatch service business catering to the manufacturing industry. The way things now stand, it looks like we’re living in a “society of deception.”

What’s frightening about these cases of fraud is that once they’ve been taken up by the media, people tend to think the entire industry is involved in the misdeeds, even though in reality it’s the action of just a fraction of firms and workers in the industry. Because these scandals make a high-profile news item, media coverage at times can go to extremes. As a result, the conduct of just a few unscrupulous companies and top management can hurt the image of the entire industry, greatly damaging the integrity of the majority of conscientious companies and workers in that industry. Moreover, if the deception’s been committed not by accident but knowingly by management, it could prove fatal to a company, no matter how large that company may be. The recent collapse of one of the leading home nursing-care service firms provides a symbolic example. That’s why ordinary companies are seeking to face the issue of compliance with laws and regulations. Given their efforts, why do corporate scandals continue to occur? Why can’t correct observance of the law--a fundamental behavior--be enforced thoroughly within an organization? This is the issue that Meitec must continue to consider seriously, because the problem can happen to anyone. On this issue, I think it’s necessary to aim to match the will of management with the conduct of front-line workers, and to make continuous efforts to this end.

In the case of “disguised worker dispatch contracts,” for example, I have the feeling there was an aspect of inevitability; the problem was bound to happen, and so it did. That’s to say, no single executive officer of leading manufacturing companies in Japan thinks non-conformance with the law is permissible. In addition, cost reduction’s a never-ending theme for major Japanese manufacturers in order to survive global market competition. So all the people working on the front-line of manufacturing are probably facing two directives: “regulatory compliance” and “cost reduction.” Cost reduction performance can be tracked clearly in numerical terms on a daily as well as monthly basis. But since it’s not easy to determine if regulatory compliance’s being thoroughly enforced, there are instances where the problem goes unnoticed until an unfortunate event happens. There aren’t a sufficient number of people in manufacturing industries who understand the Worker Dispatch Law in detail. Thus, when told by an industry-specialized staffing service company, “Do this, and you won’t be violating the law,” they may see nothing wrong. And if doing what’s told results in cost reduction, then management might end up in making an imprudent judgment. Here, although management, as the recipient of the staffing service,2 is undoubtedly held responsible, I think the responsibility of industry-specialized staffing service companies--explaining to clients properly and accurately what constitutes correct practice and what doesn’t--is far greater. In the case of the “disguised worker dispatch contracts,” some companies put exclusive focus on the cost aspect, the major area of concern of the client, and have ultimately gotten their client companies involved in a scandal.

In an effort to address the industry’s problem beginning with having companies “get their houses in order,” Meitec established the Nippon Engineering Outsourcing Association (NEOA) in February 2007. The thinking behind this move was to build a healthy industry that enables clients to use the service with a sense of security. In July this year, the “Industry Soundness Improvement Campaign,”3 The NEOA’s first concrete activity, was launched, with the aim of making the industry safe for clients by eliminating disguised worker dispatch contracts from the industry through cooperation from clients. Meitec aims to establish the NOEA as an industry brand that makes clients say, “We feel safe doing business with a company if it’s an NEOA member.”

It may be that full understanding of the Worker Dispatch Law among the front-line people of client companies has yet to be achieved. As the founder of the Nippon Engineering Outsourcing Association and the industry’s No. 1 company, Meitec’s committed to working diligently to deepen clients’ knowledge and improve the soundness of the industry. In this way, not only will clients feel safe, but also everyone working in the industry will feel secure and take pride in his or her work.

September, 2007