Seven & i Holdings has positioned supporting active roles for women, youth, and seniors as a material issue, and aims to enhance its corporate competiveness through active participation of diverse human resources, with the goal of becoming a company with a sustainable competitive advantage.
Seven & i Holdings established the Diversity Promotion Project in 2012 and has promoted initiatives with a focus particularly on women's participation and advancement, based in part on the thinking that incorporating the perspectives and sensibilities of women into product and service development and sales floor arrangements translates into higher customer satisfaction given that a majority of customers that visit the Group's stores and other establishments are women. As the next steps in the initiative, in 2012 we created a promotion system and in 2013 conducted measures for awareness-raising among women themselves and revised operation of the system. In 2014, we moved to the stage of raising the awareness of management-level employees. In addition, since 2015 we have promoted initiatives to support the balancing of work and family care responsibilities, and we continue to conduct a variety of measures to achieve our targets for diversity promotion by 2020.
At the same time, we have also reviewed working formats for greater productivity, focusing on rectifying long working hours, which have been a barrier to the further advancement of diverse personnel, and on achieving employee work-life balance. By promoting initiatives in line with the business formats at each Group company, including organizing work process improvement teams to raise the efficiency of store operations, visually representing overtime work and leave days used, and establishing no-overtime days, we have successfully reduced overtime work and increased the rate of leave taken. Our next step will be to aim for even greater productivity gains while promoting initiatives to enable flexible work styles that allow diverse human resources to play active roles.
Steps to Diversity Promotion
Seven & i Holdings is working to promote active roles for women by conducting community activities and seminars targeting various levels within the Group.
Internal interviews conducted in 2012 to identify issues for the further participation and advancement of women revealed concern about balancing work and childcare responsibilities. In response, in July 2012 Mama's Community meetings were held to build a network of women involved in raising children. The group uses lunch breaks to hold discussions on balancing work and child-raising and strives to raise employee motivation while eliminating anxieties. In the fiscal year ended February 29, 2016, a career planning sheet was created based on feedback received that indicated a desire for discussion on balancing a career with having children. Community participants conducted self-analysis of their own strengths and weaknesses and the skills they have acquired and created their own career plans based on a life plan, which served to foster greater career awareness.
The Women's Management Community meetings have been held since October 2012 to create a network of female managers and further refine managerial abilities. The community invites speakers from inside and outside the company and holds seminars on improving skills and other management topics. In addition, the community promotes the further participation and advancement of women by leveraging Group strengths to build networks with various female role models.
Women's participation and advancement requires that men become more involved in housework and childcare. For this reason, the Ikumen Promotion Program was established in October 2013. It brings in outside lecturers from organizations such as the NPO Fathering Japan, reaffirms the necessity of participation by men in housework and childcare, supports awareness-change among men, and promotes review and revision of existing work formats.
The Diversity Management Seminars have been held since June 2014 to change the awareness of managers. The seminars were held four times in fiscal 2016, and approximately 1,000 people from 21 Group companies participated. Led by outside lecturers, the seminars cover such issues as management of diverse staff members, reforming work formats, and leadership. They provide the opportunity for managers to think about diversity from a number of different perspectives. The Diversity Management Handbook is also distributed to managers to promote communication with staff members working to balance work and childcare or family care responsibilities in order to further train managers to make good use of their diverse personnel to generate results.
We are working to promote highly capable women and further bolster personnel training to meet the goal of a 30% ratio of female managers by 2020, one of our targets for diversity promotion. As a result of this initiative, female manager ratios, which were 21.3% for team leaders and 14.2% for section managers at the end of February 2012 before the project started, have risen to 30.3% for team leaders and 23.0% for section managers as of the end of February 2016. There has also been progress in changing awareness among women employees and managers in general, and there are now actually numerous managers in the short working hours program. At present, we are working to further train and promote women by holding selective training at Group companies and having career plans shared with supervisors during individual meetings.
Trends in the Percentage of Female Managers
Seven & i Holdings administered an employee opinion survey in May 2015 to employees at 28 Group companies. With regard to promoting women's active roles, there was an 11.3% increase in respondents who agreed fully or in part that "It is relatively easy to continue working even while raising children" compared to the survey conducted in 2013. Also, there was a 12.6% increase in respondents who agreed fully or in part that "I am able to advance my career even while raising children." These changes demonstrate that the consciousness of employees is changing as well due to the various internal awareness-raising activities that have been conducted.
Seven & i Holdings has established specific targets for promoting the active role of women, and the entire Group has worked together to make progress on them. The Group's high ratios of female corporate officers and female managers, and its disclosure of the active roles of women, as well as efforts such as changing the awareness of women, men, and management, respectively, have been highly rated. In February 2014 we were awarded the Grand Prize at the first Empowerment Awards sponsored by the Working Women's Empowerment Forum, which is part of the Japan Productivity Center. In addition, in January 2015, we were awarded the Prime Minister's Award at the Leading Companies Where Women Shine Awards, recently established by the Cabinet Office. Moreover, we placed No. 2 overall for the second consecutive year in the "100 Best Companies Where Women Play Active Part" ranking for fiscal 2016 sponsored by "Nikkei WOMAN" magazine and the Nikkei Womanomics Project.
Since September 2012 Seven & i Holdings had held quarterly diversity promotion liaison meetings with diversity managers at the Group's 8 core operating companies (including Seven & i Holdings) to rapidly develop out horizontally initiatives proposed for the Diversity Promotion Project at the operating companies. Participation was expanded in 2015 to 12 companies and through the meetings Group synergies continue to be generated.
In addition, dedicated diversity teams have been launched at each operating company since September 2013. To achieve the Group's targets, individual targets have now also been set in line with operating company characteristics and initiatives are under way. For example, at SEJ, the training and hiring of women in the sales division has been identified as an issue, and the company is reviewing its hiring practices, improving working conditions, and promoting systematic hiring of women. In addition, IY has identified as an issue the promotion of women to managerial positions and has been working to train women managerial candidates, raise the awareness of managers by holding lectures on diversity management at store manager meetings, for example, and promote greater participation by men in childcare. Sogo and Seibu are having women actively participate in management training for further development and promotion.
Seven & i Holdings is assisting people with disabilities to demonstrate their abilities at their workplaces based on its commitment to provide an environment where everyone can play an active role. To this end, all operating companies consult with employees with disabilities to determine the workplaces, jobs and working hours that are suitable in consideration of the level and details of their disability and their own preferences. In this way, people with disabilities work in various divisions.
In recruitment, we coordinate with special-needs schools to provide onsite training in stores and participate in job interviews organized by local employment agencies and partner with vocational schools. Furthermore, all Group companies are provided with the Seven & i Holdings Normalization Support Guide, which contains basic knowledge and practical recruitment methods when employing people with disabilities, to ensure that all people who are responsible for recruitment and education at Group companies are aware of considerations regarding disabilities and that they implement them.
Furthermore, Terube*1, which is a special subsidiary established to foster the employment of people with severe disabilities, employs 17 people with disabilities as of June 1, 2016. As a result, the Group's employment rate of people with disabilities*2 including those employed by Terube came to 2.47% (as of June 1, 2016)
With the birthrate declining, society aging, and the working-age population decreasing, SEJ is creating employment opportunities for seniors who want to work. The company actively participates in joint company presentations on senior employment held by municipalities and promotes the hiring of seniors.
For people concerned about working at a convenience store, SEJ strives to provide detailed information and maintain conditions that are conducive to working with confidence. For international students and people of foreign nationalities, the company promotes hiring at its stores and dedicated manufacturing facilities.