There is growing anticipation throughout Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020). In preparation for Tokyo 2020, companies are being requested to develop sustainability initiatives, one of those being the promotion of understanding and respect for sexual minorities, including the LGBTQ* community.
Recruit, an official partner of Tokyo 2020, held the Tokyo 2020 official program "Tokyo 2020 is an Opportunity for LGBTQ&ALLY" seminar in Academy Hall on the 41st floor of the head office on December 5th, 2018.
"Ally" is a term used to describe people who understand and actively support the LGBTQ community. In the seminar, after companies learned what is being asked of them for the upcoming Tokyo 2020, they studied company policies in detail, focusing on the effects of increasing the presence of allies.
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Mr. Sugimoto and Ms. Kaya from The Tokyo Organising Committee gave a talk, titled "Diversity and Inclusion in Companies with a Look at Sustainability Initiatives for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games".
Based on core concepts of "unity in diversity" and "connecting to tomorrow", Tokyo 2020 has been moving forward with various sustainability initiatives. Various efforts have already been implemented, such as the preparation of a D&I handbook, and D&I reception and support training taught by disabled staff members.
A "sustainability-conscious procurement code" has been enforced, and the standards that business persons such as suppliers and licensees should follow and emergency contacts, are being established. Also, in addition to business persons submitting a checklist to show their efforts, they will be expected to promote the sustainability of the supply chain as a whole.
Finally, Mr. Sugimoto expressed the following:
"The phase of understanding these agendas and reflecting on plans for the Games is over. The time has come to start putting those plans for Tokyo 2020 into action. In so doing, we must all meet society's expectations; not only the Organising Committee, but the supplier and licensee companies as well. And even after the Organising Committee has disbanded, those efforts must be continued."
Encouraging More Allies and Creating a Friendly Work Environment for LGBTs
Next, Yuki Higashi -- who works in Human Resources, as well as being a member of the organization "Allies Connect", which supports the LGBT community and encourages more people to become allies -- spoke on the current situation in and outside of Japan surrounding the LGBT community, company policies and the effects of allies in the workplace.
The World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from their list of diseases in 1990, and since 2000, legalization of same-sex civil partnerships and marriages has been progressing in areas of Europe and North America. Now, all G7 countries apart from Japan have approved same-sex marriage or civil partnerships. In the international community, sexual orientation and sexual identity are becoming recognized as human rights.
The question often asked by company representatives is "how far do we need to take measures?". Ms. Higashi replied "you do not need to provide special treatment or privileges, by any means. As stated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2016, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity 'it is essential to allow the enjoyment of rights, and to prohibit discrimination without exception'."
In addition, Ms. Higashi discussed the LGBT support measures required of companies such as, establishing human rights regulations and guidelines, conducting training, environmental improvements such as toilets, employee benefits that place same-sex partners equal to spouses, and an employee community that assumes responsibility for facilitating changes in the workplace. She gave specific advice for dealing with situations, such as formulating guidelines for supporting the gender transition of transgender individuals, to avoid any disparity in how they are treated, depending on how well their superiors understand the situation.
On the theme of "allies", analysis has shown that LGBTs are more willing to continue working in a place where allies are present, and Ms. Higashi stated that "allies are essential for changing the company culture and creating a positive work environment for LGBTs."
To encourage staff to be allies, it is important to raise levels of understanding through training, and point out discriminatory language and conduct in the workplace to encourage the level of behavior desired in an ally. LGBTs have a positive effect on encouraging ally behavior in people close to them, but this is difficult in Japan where there are few people who have come out at work. However, the presence of other allies to act as role models also has a positive effect on other people's understanding and behavior, and Ms. Higashi gave this advice: "even wearing a rainbow badge to show you are an ally, like I do, makes a difference. Showing yourself to be an ally, holding lectures, and other such measures are also effective."
Ms. Higashi ended with this message: "a survey by Dentsu Diversity Lab showed that 7.6% of the population in Japan are LGBT, so in order to make their place of work somewhere they can thrive, the remaining 92.4% must become allies. Every day I feel the need to encourage more people to become allies, through various measures such as implementing systems and training courses, and create friendly working environments for employees, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity."
At the end of the seminar, "Pride House Tokyo" Consortium representative Gon Matsunaka spoke about plans for the establishment of "Pride House Tokyo", which will offer programs as a place for exchange and spreading information related to diversity, such as the LGBTQ community, during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
It will act as a hospitality facility for a limited time during Tokyo 2020, but from 2020 onwards, the goal will be to create a place where the next generation of young LGBTs can gather and feel at ease, as Japan's first permanent LGBT Center.
For more details about Pride House Tokyo, please visit this website.
"Tokyo 2020 is an Opportunity for LGBTQ&ALLY" Seminar Summary
Date: December 5th, 2018 (Wed) 17:30-19:00
Venue: Gran Tokyo South Tower Floor 41 Academy Hall
Recruit Co., Ltd., Human Resources Management Office, Diversity Group, Group Manager: Naoko Tsukamoto
Diversity and Inclusion in Companies With a Look at Sustainability Initiatives for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
Sustainability Department Nobuyuki Sugimoto
Human Resources Department Kazuko Kaya
LGBT Company Policies and Effects
Allies Connect Representative Director: Yuki Higashi
Plans for the Establishment of Pride House Tokyo
"Pride House Tokyo" Consortium Representative: Gon Matsunaka
After the seminar, there was a party to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Recruit Group LGBT community "COLORs" that was established and managed by Recruit employees, and many of the seminar audience joined in the fun.
(Photo: 3rd Anniversary Cake)
* LGBTQ: Abbreviation of Lesbian (L), Gay (G), Bisexual (B), Transgender (T), and Queer or Questioning (Q), indicating individuals whose sexual identity and sexual orientation is not fixed.