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Feature Article 2: Discussion on Diversity

As part of efforts to ensure diversity of its workforce, JSR invited Mariko Kono, Chief Executive Offi cer of
Career Network Co., Ltd., to talk with Masaki Hirose, JSR’s managing director responsible for human
resources. (The discussion was held on April 19, 2010).
Diversity is Essential for Continuous Corporate Development
Starting in FY2011, the JSR Group has made promoting workforce diversity with a focus on women a priority management issue, and plans to make additional efforts concerning further diversification.
In the future, Japan's workforce is going to decline in size. In order to maintain continuous development, it will be essential for businesses to recruit outstanding personnel. However, behind the drive for diversification with a focus on women is the awareness that such an undertaking will be diffi cult under the existing male-oriented structure. The drive is also intended to respond to the diversification of values in conjunction with increasing globalization. Businesses will be unable to successfully compete on a global scale if they don't establish corporate cultures that welcome a wide variety of different values.
Indeed. There is a tendency for the need for diversity to be addressed only from a moral perspective within corporate social responsibility. It is truly wonderful that JSR is approaching diversity not just from this perspective, but also from within its human resources and business strategies.
Thank you. Of course, true diversity is not limited to women, but also affects a wide range of people, including foreign nationals and disabled people, but it can be difficult to address all of these groups at the same time. To begin with, we have decided to maintain and strengthen our original policies by expanding employment opportunities for women.
Half of JSR's consumers are women, and it is extremely important to incorporate this perspective into your operations.
I have reviewed data concerning the employment of women at JSR, and it is noteworthy that the average length of employment of women is quite long at 12 years.
Some time ago, JSR began taking measures to establish a working environment that facilitates the employment of women. These measures include the adoption of programs for shorter working hours and working from home, as well as a daycare allowance. In 2008, we established a “return to work” policy for employees who left the company in the past and wish to resume working.
That is a commendable program. I believe that it is very important to increase options concerning lifestyles and working styles.
Promoting Change within the Company through Repeated and Steady Efforts
Nonetheless, women fi ll only 2% of managerial positions.
This percentage has been increasing, but it is still extremely low, and this is an important issue.
One issue is that the number of women in career-track positions that are eligible to enter management is itself low. We have a program for personnel to shift from clerical positions to career-track positions, but many employees avoid making this change because of the possibility of being transferred to a different location. Also, there are instances where employees limit themselves because of the “clerical positions” label. In 2007, we modifi ed the program to encourage more employees to transfer to career-track positions, but I believe it would be benefi cial if we could entirely eliminate the barriers between clerical positions and career-track positions in the future. This type of change will of course take some time, but we have set a goal of women filling 5% of managerial positions by 2015.
When you set a specific target like that, I get the impression that management is serious about these issues. It is not necessary, of course, for all women to enter management, but I believe it is important that every employee feels the value of their work and that the company allows for individual lifestyles.
One perspective that I believe is important when hiring women is whether to make decisions based on current abilities or future potential. Unfortunately, because of the prevailing corporate culture in Japan, women are not given many opportunities to gain experience. Almost all important work-related skills are developed through experience. One method is to give as many opportunities as possible to employees with ambition and determination. In this sense, revising the program for transferring female employees from clerical positions to career-track positions in order to increase opportunities for women makes sense.
Women have become more active in various divisions, and the presence of women is linked to the company's performance. This is probably the single most important factor in successfully promoting diversity.
Another important issue is spreading these policies and programs throughout the company. We provide information at every turn through internal newsletters, an intranet, training, and so on, but it is still not enough. There is no surefire remedy, and I believe that the only solution is steady and repeated efforts.
Just as you say, it is important to take actions in many different forms to promote policies. Ultimately, the information needs to be not only seen and heard, but brought to employees' attention to the extent that they talk about it themselves.
Work-Life Management and Allocation of Work
It is also necessary to take measures to achieve a simultaneous balance between both work and home life.
Until now, there has been an attitude within the company that values working long hours. We need to change this culture and place greater value on producing the desired results within the allotted time rather than simply working long hours. If we can't do that, no matter how much we talk about diversity and employment of women, it's no more than whitewashing the issue.
I completely agree with you.
To achieve this, it is necessary for direct supervisors to allocate work that matches the skills of each employee.
Previously, some supervisors gave women only standardized, routine work; instead, they need to allocate work that is appropriate for the individual employee in terms of both quantity and quality. When promoting diversity, this may very well be the most difficult thing to do.
That's true. For example, if supervisors do not consider assigning a combination of both work that is extremely challenging and routine work, employees will not find their work interesting and their individual skills will not be enhanced, an important factor in developing human resources. Management that takes into account the individual is extremely important for diversity too.
It is from this perspective that we plan to introduce two person team seminars for one female employee and her supervisor so we can make further improvements.
I look forward to this program. This may very well be a good opportunity to make significant changes to the corporate culture.
I have high hopes that JSR will make even greater use of the skills of its female employees and become an even better and more diverse company.

Roadmap to for the Promotion of Diversity


Mariko Kono began working for Pioneer International Inc. in 1981. After working in Pioneer's personnel division at the head office, she was transferred to Career Network, a personnel and human resources services subsidiary that was established with the basic principles of organizational development and individual growth. She served as senior managing director and president, and after the company became independent in 2002, Kono was appointed Chief Executive Officer. Areas of expertise include human resource development and organizational skills enhancement. She serves as a member of the Cabinet Office Council for Gender Equality and the Japan Productivity Center's Council for Promotion of Work-Life Balance.
She is also a mother with sons in junior and senior high school.

Mariko Kono Chief Executive Officer, Career Network Inc.

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