Last month, we produced transparent masks that allow us to see around the mouth, and through the Ayabe Network (Ayabe City, Kyoto Prefecture), a group of people involved with the hearing impaired, we decided to donate about 900 of these masks to concerned parties throughout Japan.
This support is provided by the Sumitomo Riko Attaka Fund, a general incorporated foundation funded by Sumitomo Riko and its employees.
With the spread of the new coronavirus infection, the wearing of masks has become an essential part of our lifestyle as a way to prevent infection and as a coughing etiquette.
As I'm sure you are all aware, it is difficult to convey happiness, anger and sorrow when wearing a mask because you cannot see facial expressions.
As a result, smooth communication is very difficult.
Furthermore, for the hard of hearing, facial expressions and mouth movements, which are the clues to understanding the other person's words, are masked, creating a barrier to communication.
A member of our company's Social Contribution Program Planning Office (at the time) discussed with the Ayabe Network, with whom we had been in contact for some time, whether there was anything we could do to help, and consulted with us internally.
And volunteers from our company participated in the study of the specifications of the transparent mask and the trial production, utilizing the knowledge and expertise they had accumulated in their work.
I was also shown the prototype, and could not believe that it was made with a sewing machine from home.
This content was released at the end of last month, and it seems we have received many responses and opinions from various fields as follows.
It is easy to use and easy to communicate because it reflects the voices of the people directly involved.
Commercialization is strongly expected.
As a hearing-impaired person, I was impressed by the article on transparent masks. I would like to use this mask.
My daughter, who has severe congenital hearing loss, also reads words from the movement of people’s mouths. The teachers at her school are using face shields, but the risk of infection is higher than ordinary masks. For the sake of the children who are trying their best to follow the lessons, I would like them to be allowed to use transparent masks.
By generating profits through manufacturing, we are able to increase our "corporate value" and continue our business.
On the other hand, society also expects us to create "public value," as represented by our social contribution activities.
We need to increase both corporate value and public value, or in other words, social value, and contribute to the targets set forth in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), in order to grow as a company where people can feel “I am glad that Sumitomo Riko exists”.
It is a great asset that our employees have such a high level of awareness and are actively promoting activities that lead to the solutions of social issues.
I would be even happier if our company's "Monozukuri-ryoku" (manufacturing capabilities) could be useful in such activities.