All are welcome! - Providing Inclusive Workplaces that Empower Every Person [Part 1]

It's been a few years since the concept of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) began to spread among businesses. Although there has been a growing sense of respect for diversity, such awareness is not easy to be ingrained into corporate culture. For businesses to facilitate diversity, they need to offer all sorts of programs designed to encourage continued empowerment of women, balance between child-rearing/family-care and work, employment of persons with disabilities, employment of the elderly, and well-being of LGBTQ individuals. OMRON is no exception.Our definition of diversity at OMRON is to "attract diverse people who will take on the challenge of the creation of a better society." Our definition of inclusion is to "unleash the passion and ability of each individual, create innovation by bringing our diverse personalities together and share the fruits of our labor." In our long-term vision, Shaping the Future 2030 (SF2030), and the medium-term management plan, "SF 1st Stage," for that matter, OMRON has declared that we will accord the highest priority to the acceleration of D&I, making dedicated efforts to recruit and develop human resources capable of solving social issues and provide a workplace environment conducive to doing so.

Here's the question: How many of you know that OMRON is one of the first companies in Japan that committed to employment of persons with disabilities? The fact is that OMRON has been a welcoming employer of persons with disabilities for more than half a century and is known as a pioneer in this regard among experts. It all started when Dr. Yutaka Nakamura, the founder of the Social Welfare Organization Japan Sun Industries, and Kazuma Tateisi, the founder of OMRON, hit it off. In 1972, when employing persons with disabilities was not so common, they established OMRON Taiyo Electronics Co., the first welfare factory in Japan, in Beppu, Oita Prefecture. Dr. Nakamura wanted to develop an environment where persons with disabilities could lead a life with economic independence, while our founder Tateisi saw their potential and was convinced that it would become a profit-making business. Based on the knowhow gained from the initial attempt, they established OMRON KYOTO TAIYO Co., Ltd. in the historic city in Japan in 1986. Under the motto of "No Charity, But a Chance," both factories have since grown while providing persons with disabilities with opportunities to work as full-fledged employees without the need for protection. Now, the two factories are trying everything they can to create workplace environments that empower every employee, with or without disabilities, rather than catering to persons with disabilities alone.

To provide such a workplace environment to everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability, we are taking a variety of initiatives, including management-led improvement of workplace environments via the VOICE employee engagement survey, human resources portfolio management to assign the right persons to the right jobs, and investment in human resources development. Meanwhile, to enable employees with disabilities to play active roles, we must advance our understanding of those employees and create a better workplace environment. In so doing, we believe that it is very important to hear what students in search of jobs have to say about it. So, we decided to participate in a program offered by the DO-IT (Diversity, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Japan project, which aims to develop leaders by supporting students with disabilities in pursuing higher education and transitioning to employment.

DO-IT Japan seeks to develop future society leaders from among children and young persons with disabilities and/or illness to realize an inclusive society together. This industry-university cooperation project is run by The University of Tokyo Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, and co-sponsoring/cooperative companies. In our capacity as a cooperative company, OMRON has joined the project to deliver lectures as part of the summer seminar program on August 9 under the theme of "What is in the mind of those who are creating job opportunities in a company for persons with disabilities and what is on their action agenda?" Three OMRON employees took the rostrum--a human resources person, an employee with a disability, and a manager who supervises an employee with a disability--to speak from their respective points of view.

1417_2.jpgQ&A with the Students (Photo Courtesy of DO-IT Japan)

Summary of the Lecture: "What Is in the Mind of Those Who Are Creating Job Opportunities in a Company for Persons with Disabilities and What Is on Their Action Agenda?"

Title Summary Speaker
Who OMRON Is and Its History of Employment of Persons with Disabilities Introduced OMRON's corporate profile, Principles, and the history of employment of persons with disabilities, as well as the fact that the OMRON Group is promoting employment of persons with disabilities at every workplace, with approximately 270 employees with disabilities working happily. Isao Miyaji,
Global Human Resources and Administration HQ,
OMRON Corporation
Creating a Society of Coexistence, Where Everyone Shines, through "Manufacturing" That Assigns Jobs to Persons At workplaces where persons with disabilities are employed, "assigning jobs to persons" is prioritized over "assigning persons to jobs." Everyone at the company, including the speaker himself, is busy making their workplace more comfortable for persons with disabilities, introducing many universal design machines and systems, and designing/assembling manufacturing aids. The speaker also arranged a virtual tour of OMRON KYOTO TAIYO Co., Ltd. Hiroaki Arai,
Futuristic Technology, "Advanced Collaboration between People and Machines" The Industrial Automation Business is working on a system that simultaneously achieves higher productivity and engagement in pursuit of "advanced collaboration between people and machines." The speaker shared a story of an employee with unusual talent and a developmental disability who joined the project team last year and is doing an exceptional job. Shinya Fujimoto,
Industrial Automation Business Company,
OMRON Corporation
1417_3.jpgThree OMRON Employees Took Turns Speaking (One Online) (Photo Courtesy of DO-IT Japan)

In the audience on the day was a select group of students from junior high schools, high schools, universities/colleges, and graduate schools who were taking the DO-IT Japan scholarship program. When the floor was open for questions, one attendee asked if OMRON has a merit rating system for employees with disabilities. Our reply was, "There is no difference in treatment of employees in salary, bonus, or pay raises based on having or not having a disability. This is also true regarding job descriptions and promotions. If you give it your all, your compensation will reflect that. It doesn't matter if you have a disability or not."

When asked, "What information is sought during job interviews with candidates with disabilities?" we explained, "It would be helpful if you would tell us specifically what we should know about your disabilities. We will try to consider individual circumstances to improve work environments and communication at workplaces as much as possible."

1417_4.jpgStudents Gazing Intently at Their Computers During a Virtual Factory Tour (Photo Courtesy of DO-IT Japan)

Professor Takeo Kondo of The University of Tokyo, a representative of DO-IT Japan who served as a moderator on the day, commented, "OMRON's basic business philosophy concerns a social model, which is very interesting. To solve social issues and make profits, every single employee, with or without disabilities, is given equal opportunities to play active roles. It's fantastic that they have made constant efforts to develop such work environments over the years."

OMRON will remain committed to listening to what our employees and students interested in working with us have to say, so that we can create workplaces where each and every employee, regardless of disability, can shine.

We will drop an in-depth story on the project to recruit human resources with unusual talent later on in this space. Stay tuned on EDGE & LINK!