2016 Top Corporate Citizen: Lucidity Enterprise
Raising Children, Supporting Seniors
Tainan-based Lucidity Enterprise proves every day that corporate social responsibility transcends deep pockets and resources and that a few simple ideas can make a real difference within a company and throughout society.
Raising Children, Supporting SeniorsBy Kuo-chen Lu
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 604 )
Mention automotive lamps, and the listed companies Depo Auto Parts Ind. Co., Ltd., Ta Yih Industrial Co., Ltd. and TYC Brother Industrial Co., Ltd. are the most likely to come to mind.
Another automotive lamp maker, Lucidity Enterprise Co., Ltd., is less well-known because it has not gone public. Yet despite having far fewer resources at its disposal than its listed rivals, it has vaulted past them to become the first auto light maker to rank in the top five among the “Small Giants” in CommonWealth’s 2016 Corporate Citizenship Awards.
Situated in the heart of Taiwan’s automotive lamp cluster in Tainan, Lucidity Enterprise has been around for 35 years, but not many people have heard of it because of its deliberate decision to stay out of the public limelight and the fact that it exports all of its production to the United States and European markets.
The extent of the company’s anonymity was highlighted when Lucidity Enterprise’s chairman, Wayne Huang, asked his employees how they learned about the company and ended up working there. Many of them responded that it happened by accident.
Four years ago, with Lucidity Enterprise celebrating its 30th anniversary and sporting stable revenues and profits, Huang wondered if some changes might be warranted. Having opted not to go public and running a business that had nothing to do with Taiwan, Huang felt the company could not remain hidden in a corner forever. The way out, he thought, would be to do something different for society and change things up for his employees.
The company’s first initiative was a move to help its employees.
When one first sets sight on Lucidity Enterprises’ facility in Tainan, what stands out, beyond the many trees surrounding the complex, is the complete absence of vehicles – unfathomable at most old factories around Taiwan. Lin Yi-feng, the special assistant to Lucidity Enterprise’s general manager, explains that when the company built its new plant in 2008, it included an underground parking lot with 800 spaces for cars and motorbikes that employees can use for free.
But why bother with such a perk?
Answers Huang: “It’s a lot harder for employees to buy a car than it is for the company’s chairman. How would employees feel if they work hard to save up to buy a car but then have to park it outside and expose it to the sun and rain while the chairman can park his car in a designated parking space underground?”
Showing empathy in its treatment of employees, Lucidity Enterprise has other special employee benefits, including one that provides incentives for “Lucidity babies.”
Subsidies for Toddlers
In visiting female employees who had just given birth, Huang learned about the heavy financial burden they face in raising children, including expenses ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$100,000 in the first month after giving birth and more than NT$10,000 a month for day care.
Huang pondered how the company could help ease that burden, an especially important issue considering that Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and young people are afraid to have children. He came up with several child-bearing incentives – including offering employees NT$50,000 when they have their first child, NT$100,000 for a second child and NT$150,000 for a third child. The company also provides monthly stipends of NT$5,000 a month to employees with children between the ages of 1 and 3.
Giving Seniors Dignity
Lucidity Enterprise has also earned recognition as a leading corporate citizen for pioneering mobile bath services for the elderly in Tainan.
Huang Chin-feng (黃錦鳳), the administrative director of the Tainan-based Tobias Social Welfare Foundation, praised the company for doing more than simply donating a large sum of money or buying a mobile bath van. Lucidity Enterprise signed a three-year contract to support the initiative and has helped with human resources, Huang notes.
When the mobile elderly bathing program first began, for example, the company mobilized its own employees and suppliers to raise money for the campaign and support the cost of the van (NT$3 million), the salaries of five employees, and the NT$1,000 cost per visit so that the service could be provided to economically vulnerable seniors for free.
Two years into the program, it has received widespread acclaim, and a second mobile bath van was put into service this year.
What prompted the company’s support for the initiative? Huang says he discovered the mobile bathing program during a trip to Japan. It was created because Japanese seniors were not being treated with dignity and forced to spend the ends of their lives confined to beds, with baths an unthinkable luxury. Huang brought the concept to Taiwan in 2012, hoping to bring dignity to Taiwan’s seniors.
Huang supplemented the program with a new twist this year after observing his 88-year-old mother. He noticed that because of her age and difficulty in getting around, she avoided drinking water or getting together to chat with others, and introduced another idea from Japan to address the problem: four-wheel shopping carts for the elderly.
Huang teamed up with a Taiwan baby stroller manufacturer to make a prototype for his mother to try, and the device gave her added mobility and injected newfound vitality into her life. Feeling good about the concept, Huang decided to give away rather than sell the carts, starting by donating 30.
of them so far this year to dependents and relatives of company employees.
Planting Seeds of Hope at Remote Schools
The third initiative that earned Lucidity Enterprise its high corporate citizenship ranking was for planting seeds of hope at elementary schools in remote parts of Taiwan.
The campaign started with San Gu Elementary School in Qiqu District in Tainan, which won the Asia Tee Ball Cup three years in a row with the company’s support.
San Gu Elementary School principal Chen Yi-chih (陳易志) said the school’s tee ball team finished third in Taiwan’s national tee ball tournament in 2012, earning the right to compete in the Asia Tee Ball Cup, but only the first-place team received financial assistance to make the trip to the Asia Cup. Short of funding, the school turned to Huang for help.
Unlike other corporate sponsorships, Lucidity Enterprise not only provided the financial support needed for the team to travel abroad and improve its equipment, it also had employees help with the students’ education.
The school has many children from disadvantaged backgrounds who have nobody to take care of them when they return home at night, and it created a “Shining Night Angel” program to address the problem, the school’s principal says. Rather than provide funding or have its chairman participate, Lucidity Enterprise encouraged employees to volunteer and teach the children different skills and English or share their experiences, giving the students the chance to learn something different.
In encouraging and teaching these children, “Lucidity Enterprise’s support did not involve giving money. Rather, it started by sowing seeds and helping the school irrigate them over the long term and then watching them blossom and grow to the point where they can come back to help others,” Chen says.
Adds Huang: “When you sow some seeds in one year, how many seeds will there be 10 years later? These seeds sprout and grow and then came back to help the community. By spreading good seeds, the community can slowly become prosperous.”
To date, Lucidity Enterprise has helped more than 20 remote elementary schools.
Back at the company’s plant, the contrast with other automotive light factories couldn’t be starker. While rivals were busy making molds and building warehouses on agricultural land to store their molds to optimize their performance, Lucidity Enterprise built a 1,400 cubic-meter rainwater harvesting tank underground to amass water for irrigating the plants on its factory’s grounds. Today, 95 percent of the water it collects is recycled and reused.
The company also invested NT$40 million in a solar panel system on its roof to generate electricity. Huang wonders how much electricity could be saved if every enterprise installed solar panels at their facilities.
Companies are unwilling to make the investment, he acknowledges, because they are in business to maximize profit, and solar power doesn’t pay. But if enterprises single-mindedly pursued profit to the maximum degree possible, they would seriously pollute and destroy the natural environment, Huang argues, implying that companies need to take broader views of their businesses and the role they play in society.
As for Lucidity Enterprise, it embraces the same values as many of its century-old clients in the United States and Europe, which have opted not to go public and do not make the pursuit of profit their only goal.
“The secret to those companies lasting for 100 years is not how much wealth they’ve created or how much money they have, but rather their spirit of altruism,” Huang says. “Only by drawing its missions and values from the experiences of helping others can an enterprise be sustainable.”
Translated from the Chinese by Luke Sabatier