Enhesa is a multi-national, multi-cultural company that helps global companies be aware of and stay in compliance with environmental, health, and safety laws. Enhesa is able to provide our services thanks to our in-house team – based across our three corporate offices. In this regular feature, you will be able to meet and get to know some of the Enhesa Team, the people that make our services what they are.
Enhesa opened an office in Tokyo, two years ago, to cater to the increasing demand from Japanese companies who want help managing their environmental, health and safety risks wherever they operate around the world.
Q: Hi Hiromi, could you tell us a bit about yourself, your role at Enhesa and what this involves on a daily basis?
I am the Enhesa Sales Manager covering Asia, with a specific focus on Japan. I am currently based out the Enhesa office in Tokyo, Japan which opened in October 2015, just over two years ago. There is growing demand here for our services as more and more multinational companies headquartered in Japan move to a global approach managing their EHS regulatory compliance. My focus is to increase brand awareness within this market and develop a more robust client and prospect base in Japan. My day-to-day role includes meeting with prospects and clients, developing quotes and proposals, and planning and delivering marketing events, etc.
Q: What is your academic and professional Background?
I hold a BA from the International Christian University here in Japan and an MSc in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. After a few years as a Project Manager leading marketing research at a company in Japan, I was transferred to a newly developed environmental sector in the company. This sector was created due to increased demand for environmental management programs, driven by local authorities. Having the opportunity to work with local authorities and the Ministry of Environment to develop their environmental policy and programs, is what peaked my interest and attracted me to studying environmental issues from an academic perspective.
Q: When did you join Enhesa?
I joined the company in May 2016 as Project Manager, initially as part of Enhesa’s Product Stewardship Team.
Q: What languages do you speak?
Japanese is my native language, but I am also fluent English and I speak some Spanish.
Q: What are your hobbies?
I enjoy running and recently completed a half marathon in Osaka! I also love playing tennis and relaxing at the spa.
Q: How did you end up working in EHS legal compliance assurance?
I don’t have a professional legal background, but it has always interested me and I completed a course on International Environmental Law. Also, in my previous position, I carried out numerous EHS audit projects in Japan including compliance, due diligence, and system audits. This gave me an understanding of Japanese EHS regulations. Similarly, as team leader of the Performance and Assurance Team, I managed over 100 projects focusing on regulatory review of overseas EHS regulations for Japanese multinationals, which has helped me become familiar with global EHS regulatory trends.
Q: What EHS issues are you most passionate about?
I am particularly interested in how EHS compliance activities can contribute to raising a company’s value. For example, one of our key clients in Japan, Omron, has been selected for the first time to be a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World) in 2017. The company started to try out Enhesa with our ScoreCard and Audit services for only a few countries in 2012. Eventually they gradually extended their EHS compliance management program using Enhesa’s services globally. Now every manufacturing site in the company uses Enhesa’s ScoreCard to ensure compliance and there is no doubt this globally standardized activity has been valued by the Dow Jones Index. I think it is a great example that compliance management pays off.
Q: What are some trends or hot issues occurring in your jurisdictional coverage at the moment?
I think the biggest regulatory development has been regarding the enforcement of health and safety laws, in particular. For example, in 2017 the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare started to publicly disclose the names of companies that violated the Labor Standard Law and Industrial Health and Safety Law. The list is updated monthly. Although the Ministry announces the list in a rather ‘subtle’ way (as you must dig down into their web site to get to the list), it drew the attention of social media and now it is called the “Black Company List”. With recent overwork related deaths and workplace harassment issues, the labor, health and safety regulations stricter enforcement activities are being sought. Compliance is more important now than ever before.
Q: What do Japanese companies operating internationally need to know about EHS? What advice would you give them?
Many Japanese Corporate EHS managers used to think that Japanese EHS regulations are stricter than most other countries (except U.S. and Europe) so that they should be fine in China or Southeast Asia if they operate per the Japanese standards. This is not the case now. In China, most EHS regulations and standards are becoming stricter and enforcement is much more severe than Japan. Those countries suffering from deteriorating environmental conditions such as India may follow. So, it is becoming crucial for the companies to accurately understand the level of EHS regulations in the jurisdictions they operate.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of working at Enhesa?
I would say it’s the people! Enhesa is a company with a relatively horizontal organizational structure. Employees are in close connection via team meetings and Skype regardless of their location. As an international company, we receive many company-wide emails that bring us right back together no matter where in the world your colleagues may be.
Q: What is the most interesting regulation you’ve ever covered OR what’s the weirdest/most memorable regulation you’ve ever covered?
When I was in China in September and November 2017, I was amazed at how drastically the Chinese government’s attitude towards EHS has changed over the past few years. The time of “regulation but no enforcement” is completely gone. Chinese national and local governments rapidly develop new EHS regulations and they enforce them relentlessly. Government officials inspect production sites more often and order correction, suspension, or even shutdown when they identify instances of non-compliance. According to a local expert, the government doesn’t care to shut down those companies with bad environmental performance as long as the total Chinese economy stays well (now it does). Such iron fist enforcement has never been seen in Japan and Japanese companies need to be prepared.