Diversity SubcommitteeJoy of Diversity—A Future Built by Sharing This Joy with Various Teammates
Junko Tsuda (left)
General Manager, New Business Development Department
MARUI GROUP CO., LTD.
Shinichi Yazawa (right)
MARUI Omni-Channel Retailing Department,
MARUI Omni-Channel Retailing Division
MOVING CO., LTD.
In March 2017, we asked two members of the Diversity Subcommittee, a body tasked with supporting the Diversity Project Team, about how they viewed the activities of this team.
Changes Brought About by Initiatives Since 2013
Tsuda: I feel that attitudes toward diversity have changed greatly over the past three and a half years. I have been involved in promoting diversity since the establishment of the 2030 Committee, the predecessor of the Diversity Subcommittee. The 2030 Committee started out with only five members, all female managers. Our initiatives have since expanded, eventually giving rise to the Diversity Project Team, which is membered by employee volunteers and now consists of 50 or 60 people. Members of the project team represent their workplaces and then share the activities of the Groupwide project team with the project teams at their own workplaces, advancing initiatives therein with the support of their supervisors. When this framework was established, it gave rise to a rapid increase in the number of people thinking about diversity and taking part in its promotion. However, when MARUI GROUP launched its diversity initiatives in 2013, understanding with regard to this concept was sorely lacking. Mr. Yazawa, how have you viewed this spread of diversity awareness?
Yazawa: I think our perspectives might differ a little due to our positions. However, I agree with you in that it seems as though, over these three and a half years, people have become more able to see how diversity relates to them. I joined the Diversity Subcommittee in October 2016. I was at first surprised by the optimistic outlook of the project team's members. MARUI GROUP continues to provide forums in which people can explore diversity through ongoing discussion, and everyone is surrounded by teammates they can be frank with. My initial impression was that this environment was what facilitated the swift progress of diversity promotion initiatives.
Tsuda: MARUI GROUP's diversity promotion initiatives are advanced through both top-down and bottom-up approaches. This enables these initiatives to incorporate employees from all ranks and thus encourages participation by everyone. It might have been this aspect of our initiatives that brought us this far. The organic connections formed between people always create an unimaginably strong driving force.
Diversity Promotion Month Representing Success in Bottom–Up Initiatives
Tsuda: It was the February 2016 Diversity Promotion Month that brought our bottom-up initiatives to the first stage of creating results. During this month, numerous initiatives were implemented simultaneously with the aim of giving all employees the opportunity to engage with the concept of diversity. Although it seemed as though the members of the Diversity Project Team might be crushed under the weight of the task at hand, they came through, planning the events, making necessary negotiations and adjustments, and overseeing the event sites by themselves. I was overjoyed by their accomplishment. The members realized that it is first necessary to change yourself if you want to change those around you, and they were able to overcome the challenges this implies to succeed. I have no doubt that this experience contributed to the growth of all of the team's members.
Yazawa: Diversity Promotion Month took place prior to my joining the Diversity Subcommittee. I therefore want to ask, what role did the members of this subcommittee play in this event?
Tsuda: The Diversity Subcommittee was positioned as an organization for supporting the members of the project team as they move ahead with autonomously driven activities. From the sidelines, I posed deliberate questions to the members and otherwise worked to spur them forward.
Yazawa: I think the role of the Diversity Subcommittee is to support the project team members in accomplishing what they truly desire. The same could be said of our daily work. In the past, I have felt a need to control situations as a strong leader. However, I now understand that everyone has different ways of thinking and working, and I therefore focus on how I can bring out employees' individual strengths. Through my involvement in promoting diversity, I came to be aware of the fact that listening to others is also an incredibly important part of management, and this concept now permeates my approach.
Shift in Source of Corporate Value from Comfort to Motivation
Yazawa: Through the initiatives implemented to date, a sense of understanding toward the type of diversity that is clearly visible has been cultivated. The next step of our efforts should be to foster our ability to recognize the type of diversity that is not so visible. Understanding of this type of diversity needs to go beyond the intellectual level. It is by experiencing such diversity first-hand and interacting with the individuals that are the source of such diversity that people can come to see how this concept relates to them. This process can change people's mind-sets and ways of thinking and thereby lead to a deeper level of understanding.
Tsuda: That is why it is so important to listen. With the Internet today, you can look up anything you want in a matter of seconds. The meaning of the words "diversity and inclusion" can thus be found with ease. However, knowledge gained with ease is also lost with ease. It is for this reason that I like to learn by listening, using this as my means of learning about others' lifestyles, their desired work styles, and in what areas they excel.
Yazawa: I think it will become increasingly important to develop an atmosphere that encourages employees to talk freely about their interests, the types of work they want to do, and other personal details and to thereby express their individuality. When the diversity of an individual is accepted, others will trust them with a wider range of tasks, which in turn will help the individual feel motivated and get more joy out of their work. If you think of diversity as individuality, it becomes easier to understand. Enabling people to express their individuality and exercise their unique talents leads to innovation.
Tsuda: You speak of creating motivation. This will be an important topic going forward. When all employees can build upon their diverse strengths, it can contribute to an overall rise in employee happiness. This process gives rise to corporate value in the form of motivation. The growth of the members of the Diversity Project Team helps further the development of their individual workplaces and subsequently creates value for customers through better service. This virtuous cycle of diversity promotion is something I hope we will continue to cherish as we move ahead with forward-looking activities in the future.
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