Founded in Japan in 1981, SoftBank Group Corporation provides information and communication technology services through its subsidiaries. SoftBank Corporation is the group’s Japanese telecommunications company, with 25 million smartphone subscribers and 8 million wired broadband subscribers in 2020. The group’s subsidiary Yahoo Japan offers internet advertising and e-commerce services. In 2020, the group divested its major subsidiaries, including US telecommunications operator Sprint, and UK semiconductor company Arm.
SoftBank’s measures to improve digital access for people with disabilities include offering discounts, simplified smartphone apps, and stores equipped with staff trained in sign language. The company also discloses the number of its employees with disabilities and partners with organisations to support the education of people with disabilities. Additionally, the company reports its community investments.
SoftBank promotes digital skills by providing programming workshops for elementary and junior high school students. The company also loans its robot Pepper to special needs schools to assist their educational requirements.
SoftBank’s cybersecurity practices follow industry norms. It has clear policies on cybersecurity, including defining internal processes for dealing with security issues, and having an incident response team. SoftBank is also one of the few companies that publicly provide copies of its information security management certification. The company has also made a high-level commitment to child online protection.
SoftBank’s support for start-ups is close to industry best practice. The company has established special funding and accelerators for start-ups founded by people from underrepresented groups, and it includes non-profit start-ups in its portfolio. With regard to supporting diversity in innovation, the company has started reporting the number of its women employees engaged in technical roles.
SoftBank can consider a dedicated initiative for enhancing digital opportunities for women and girls to help reduce the gender digital divide. The company can also disclose additional metrics on its existing programmes for increasing digital access. Additionally, the company can improve transparency by reporting how the economic value it creates is distributed among its stakeholders, as well as its income taxes paid and employment in its main markets.
The company has an opportunity to develop programmes for advancing intermediate and technical digital skills. The company can also disclose additional metrics or impact assessments for its existing skills development programmes.
SoftBank should disclose the number of data breaches it experiences each year. The company also has an opportunity to publish a transparency report and disclose additional information on the measures it takes to protect children online.
SoftBank commits to respecting human rights and the ILO core labour rights. However, the company does not disclose a process to identify and assess salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships. While the company states that ‘appropriate correction and relief measures’ are implemented if a human rights violation occurs, it does not describe a global system that allows the company to prevent, mitigate or remediate its salient human rights issues. The company does disclose a grievance mechanism available to both employees and external stakeholders to raise human rights complaints or concerns.
SoftBank does not have a formal policy commitment to respect the health and safety of its own workers, but it does require its business relationships to commit to respecting workers’ health and safety. The company pays its workers a living wage. However, it does not disclose the proportion of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements. Nor does it specify that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours. In relation to workforce diversity, SoftBank provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender. However, it does not disclose against any other indicators of diversity per employee category.
SoftBank discloses a global tax strategy, which is overseen by the company’s board. However, the company does not disclose income tax payments in individual tax jurisdictions. The company discloses its lobbying expenditures, but it does not have a policy statement on its approach to lobbying and political engagement. SoftBank has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. Furthermore, the company takes steps to identify and address bribery and corruption, and it has a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints on the topic.