“The goal is to be simpler and more agile”

The new EBC

Changes to governance and communications revitalise the European Business Council in Japan

 


April 2020 Feature / Text by Toby Waters


In the first three months of the new decade, the European Business Council in Japan (EBC) underwent some of the biggest structural and aesthetic changes since it was founded in 1972. It is now more agile, responsive, and communicative than ever before.

Foremost among these changes was an overhaul of the EBC’s governance, with a new constitution coming into force on 20 January. Previously, the EBC reported to both the Board of Governors and the Executive Operating Board (EOB), but under the revised constitution, the EOB has been dissolved. This move will help to streamline decision-making. Also, the mandatory 60-day voting process has been abolished, and committee chairs will no longer have voting rights — a positive change that will allow them to focus exclusively on advocacy issues. Reducing structural complexity has been a priority for Michael Mroczek, president of the EBC, since he was elected in January 2019.

“The former constitution and its processes were outdated, so it was necessary to adopt a new constitution to meet our contemporary needs,” he says. “The changes will allow us to concentrate more on our core mission, which is advocacy.”

The new constitution introduces a proxy voting system. This allows each national chamber president who sits on the Board of Directors to appoint a representative, who will have the same authority and voting rights. Additionally, the EBC president can now appoint three or more vice presidents, each of whom will be responsible for a specific area of EBC operations.

As part of the new EBC, several names and titles have been changed. The chairman will now be referred to as the president, and the secretariat will be called EBC management, which comprises a chief operating officer (formerly executive director) and a chief policy director (formerly policy director).

The EBC management can now take over the functions of a committee chairperson if one has not been appointed. They are also permitted to stimulate committee activity by calling for meetings, encouraging participation, and assisting with minute-taking. The aim of this streamlining is to strengthen the EBC’s 25 committees, which are responsible for identifying issues in their industry sector for the EBC to raise with the government.

“The goal is to be simpler and more agile,” Mroczek says. “We would like to focus more on the core mission of the EBC by helping the committees concentrate on their issues and then by making sure that their voices are heard.”

Another priority for Mroczek was to update the EBC’s communications. The organisation has now been rebranded with a new logo, which was the result of a rigorous process that saw roughly 20 candidates narrowed down to one. The logo represents the concept of “Team Europe in Japan”, something that can be seen clearly in the final design.

 

 

“This logo communicates the idea of the EBC as a unifying organisation representing its diverse members,” says Paddy O’Connor, creative director at Paradigm, the Tokyo-based digital creative agency that assisted the EBC with its communications transformation. “The interwoven blades form a traditional Japanese umbrella pattern, and at the centre is the red sun of the Japanese flag alongside five yellow stars to connect with the EU flag.”

Paradigm also created a new EBC website, which was launched on 17 March. Visitors can now more easily find information about the EBC, its various committees, and recent news items relevant to the organisation and its stakeholders, as well as read the white paper and Eurobiz Japan online.

“The previous website looked like it was from the 1990s, and it was not well structured, which made it difficult to find what you need,” Mroczek says. “It was important to simplify things and have a more contemporary design.”

The new website is built on the popular WordPress platform, making it easier for the EBC management to regularly update the site. It is also easier to navigate.

“It is fully responsive and looks great on any device that accesses it,” notes O’Connor. “Sponsorship is very important to the EBC, so we created a dynamic footer on all the pages to showcase the firms that support the organisation.”

These updates were necessary, Mroczek believes, because they express to stakeholders, potential members, the Japanese government, and the world at large that the EBC has modernised and is relevant today. The EBC is also developing its social media presence to reach a larger audience.

“These changes aren’t substantial in the sense that they have an impact on how the EBC works,” he says. “But they have changed people’s perceptions and, in that sense, they are very substantial.”

The EBC’s newsletters have also been redesigned in line with the new brand, and its future white papers will also be given a new look. Additionally, the organisation has introduced a series of events, called EBC Briefings, to improve communication with, and between, members and other stakeholders.

“These events are a platform where we can showcase the different EBC committees and educate companies, potential members, and anyone else who’s interested about their work,” explains Mroczek. “It also gives committee members the opportunity to interact and to find out about what one another are doing.”

While these changes have effectively transformed the EBC, the aim of the organisation — to promote an impediment-free environment for European businesses in Japan — remains unchanged.

“The changes we have implemented will simplify and energise the EBC so it can put all its energy and resources into advocacy,” Mroczek states. “I am grateful to the members of the governance working group — Guy Bonaud, Marcus Schuermann, Michael Loefflad, and Carl Eklund — and to the members of the communications working group — Gregory Van Bellinghen, Michael Loefflad, and Francesco Formiconi — for helping to make this possible.”

“The changes will allow us to concentrate more on our core mission, which is advocacy”

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