A Business Built On Giving Back
Sincerity and creativity
Purpose-led companies and social awareness are often seen as today’s business buzzwords but at Sharp, we are proud of a much longer history of giving back to employees, business partners and our valued customers. Based on our two key values of sincerity and creativity, we’ve always believed that our innovative technology should be used for the welfare of people across the world, delivering opportunities and putting them first in an honest and open way.
It all started with a human kindness
Born in Tokyo in 1893, the founder of Sharp was a young man called Tokuji Hayakawa who despite a poor start in life, never forgot those whose kindness helped him set up the company. After his mother died, he was adopted by a couple who used him as cheap labour before an old lady called Mrs Inone took him under her wing and sponsored his metalworking apprenticeship, learning from the strict but fair Master Sakata.
Hayakawa went on to take his invention of a mechanical pencil to build Sharp as a world-leading technology brand. His philosophy, however, was always simple as he endeavoured to grow hand in hand with his employees, placing their potential to grow at the heart of the business, and giving others the same helping hand that he received.
Championing employee education
As early as 1936, Sharp realised that a great employer creates a sense of family by caring about their people beyond the ability to do the job. As Tokuji had so few opportunities to study, he was determined to give factory workers who had only finished elementary school the chance to continue their education and set up the Hayakawa Commercial School for Youth, with nearly 150 students enrolled in the first year.
The school was the first of a whole host of welfare initiatives over the last century, from metalworking facilities for the visually impaired through to childcare centres for single or working parents as early as the 1950’s.
Valuing partnerships above all
Sharp also trail-blazed the way in understanding that great technology is based on understanding the user experience, and that only by valuing opinions can you expect successful growth. Over a hundred years ago, Sharp were one of the first companies to set up a dealer community to discuss new products, talk about market conditions and customer needs, as well as build trusted partnerships through shared social activities such as theatre trips.
Open conversations have also consistently been the basis of solid customer relationships, with feedback on new lines sought as far back as the 1930’s and as an industry first, a Creative Lifestyle Focus Center was set up in 1985 to explore consumers’ true preferences and shape the development of demand-generating “new-lifestyle” products.
Now that's a good idea!
Above all, perhaps the best part of being a true people business is believing that every single employee has a ‘creativity gene’ and placing faith in their ideas, no matter how avant-garde they seem at the time. From the world’s first solar panels, microwave ovens with turntables to diode electronic calculators and wall-mounted LCD TVs, Sharp have put faith in the ideas of their employees and with the intent of greater good.
“Make products that others want to imitate” is the timeless mantra of Tokuji Hayakawa and now more than ever before, it drives Sharp’s goal of benefiting society by being the first to meet the challenging technology needs of the new era we face.
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