Headquartered in Japan, Rakuten was founded in 1997 as an e-commerce company, but has since expanded to provide different services. It provides mobile communications through Rakuten Mobile and operates the popular messaging app Viber. It also provides Kobo, an e-book reader and ecosystem, and Rakuten TV, a streaming service. Additionally, it is active in fintech, insurance, credit cards, and banking services.
Rakuten demonstrates support for accessibility with a high-level commitment, adhering to accessible design principles for its products, and disclosing metrics on the number of its employees with disabilities.
Rakuten demonstrates support for open innovation through participation in standards bodies and sharing of source code. The company also provides support for the tech innovation ecosystem through its venture capital fund and other support to start-ups.
Rakuten has an opportunity to develop initiatives to support access to digital technologies for vulnerable groups. While the company shows initial efforts in enhancing digital opportunities for women and girls, it can make more long-term and impactful efforts in this area. The company should also disclose how the economic value it generates is distributed among its stakeholders.
Rakuten has an opportunity to support initiatives for intermediate and technical digital skills development, as well as advancing school connectivity. The company can also disclose additional metrics on its existing programmes.
Rakuten should report the number of data breaches. The company can also publish a transparency report detailing the number of government requests it receives for user information. As a digital company, Rakuten should also make a high-level policy commitment to child online protection.
Rakuten can strengthen its support for the tech innovation ecosystem by assisting non-profit start-ups and start-ups founded by people from underrepresented groups. The company should also disclose the number of its women employees engaged in technical roles. Additionally, it should demonstrate the ethical principles it follows for research and development (R&D), including for its artificial intelligence (AI) activities.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Rakuten commits to respecting human rights and the ILO core labour rights. It also has a publicly available policy statement that expects its business relationships to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. The company identifies, assesses and takes action to address its salient human rights issues in its own operations and in its business relationships. It also identifies and engages with the stakeholders whose human rights are or may be impacted by its operations. However, it has an opportunity to improve its disclosures by providing specific examples of its engagement with these stakeholders. Rakuten does not have a grievance mechanism available to both employees and external stakeholders to raise human rights complaints or concerns.
Rakuten publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers. However, the company does not require its business relationships to commit to respecting the health and safety of workers. Rakuten does not disclose a policy commitment stating that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours, and it is not explicit that it expects its business relationships to do the same. Furthermore, the company provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage. Nor does it demonstrate how it works with its business relationships to support the payment of a living wage. The company has not committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment and does not disclose any time-bound targets on the subject. In relation to workforce diversity, Rakuten provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender. However, it does not disclose against other indicators of diversity per employee category.
Rakuten has a global tax strategy but does not disclose information on its income tax payments in individual tax jurisdictions. The company has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, but it does not include anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its contracts with business relationships. Furthermore, Rakuten does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.