Finding the ‘Sweet Spot’ between Business Strategy and Sustainability

Over the years, LG has relooked at its corporate citizenship in a bid to improve and impact the communities they operate in.  We recently spoke to LG East Africa Managing Director, Janghoon Chung on LG’s initiatives in the region and they challenges the company faces in implementing them.

What is LG’s sustainability principles?

Globally, LG Electronics pursues sustainability management that is balanced with society, the environment, and the economy. We strive to have our sustainability principled reflect the different voices of our stakeholders through our activities. Lastly, we strive to generate differentiated value for our stakeholders which will serve as a firm foundation for LG’s sustainable growth.

What do you think contributes to the strong corporate sustainability performance of LG in East Africa?

We believe that LG’s management system is a key contributor to our strong CSR culture. We have

  • Strong local policies that support the execution of our CSR commitment and this is supported by the global office.
  • Each employee is held accountable to the company’s policies on social responsibility
  • Feedback mechanisms that enable us to report our social responsibilities gaps and how to address them

How do you address the challenge of implementing the sustainability programs?

For the last two years, the main challenges that I have faced have been based on how to remind my great team to embed our sustainability principles in everything we do. The aspect of change communication to drive accountability for our sustainability remains a challenge. However, we have managed to on board everyone and made them understand how their business units contribute to towards attaining our sustainability commitments. I think our challenge is delivering a more sustainable future at the same time as meeting consumer needs. While some consumers are willing to do trade-offs [with the environment], the majority don’t want to do trade-offs, so we need to deliver brilliant, sustainable innovation at the same time as meeting basic consumer needs.

Today, Kenya is grappling with the issue of e-waste with no large scale disposal mechanism. What is LG’s position on environmental sustainability?

Sustainability is a top priority for LG. We are year on year improving our environmental profile world and have specific long-term goals. We advocate for sustainability management that allows our stakeholders to grow together with the company by developing products and technologies geared toward the smart life of our customers and smart businesses, setting up a low carbon and circular economy system as well as sustainable supply chains, creating decent jobs, and addressing local issues through social contribution. We minimally meet the letter and spirit of all local environmental laws and regulations as well as our own internal LG specifications which in the case of Africa often exceed the former. Our African operations are part of our global sustainability goals and actively contribute to it. We have dedicated organizations to ensure and monitor the environmental safety of all our products. Our employees are also fully engaged in the sustainability efforts, including those in our office buildings, leading to significant reductions in electricity, paper and water consumption. We also work closely with our partners to measure and improve their environmental footprint, as well.

Is sustainability a source of product innovation?

Absolutely, LG sees itself more than an electronics company. Innovation is LG’s way of life. Innovation has helped us push further and without this pursuit of constant improvement, we would be left behind in the dust. If the pursuit of innovation is our means to stay “Smart” then “Simple” is the very centerpiece that helps stay innovative. During CES 2019, LG Electronics introduced a variety of innovative and new products such as the world’s first Rollable OLED TV, the 88-inch 8K Z9 OLED TV as well as the wearable LG CLOi SuitBot supports the lower body to reduce stress when lifting amongst others. In the near future people can expect to see majority of the products that were announced during CES 2019 be rolled out across the region, however this would depend on the demand, regulations and tailoring the specifications for the product in each respective market.

How are LG’s philanthropic programs important to market success?

LG aims to create the values needed by society through constant interaction with society. LG continues to actively play the roles needed to create a future society that is healthy and sustainable creating brand affinity for new and existing clients. Our sustainable CSR projects like the Kikuyu Hospital Partnership which is on the 13th year helps us position LG as a socially responsible company empowering lives in Kenya and East Africa.

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