Global competition has become more intense, and customers' needs are more varied and sophisticated than ever. For the Ricoh Group to keep growing, we will need the higher added value that innovation can provide.
A diverse workforce aids innovation by bringing many perspectives and knowledge bases into play. We aim to create a workplace where employees from many cultures can be productive while also fulfilling their lives away from work and career.
The Ricoh Group actively promotes diversity and work-life balance as key strategies for increasing corporate value through dynamism driven by a diverse workforce performing at their full potential.
Since 2002, Ricoh has also focused its efforts on promoting a corporate culture that provides more opportunities for individuals to play more active roles according to their abilities and achievements regardless of gender. Our three major objectives are to change attitudes and increase awareness, greater involvement of women, and support for a better work-life balance. Specific examples include the inclusion of equal opportunity-related issues in our annual awareness survey of employees and the provision of information on gender equality to employees to raise their awareness. In addition, the question "Does he/she provide equal opportunities to employees regardless of gender?" was included in the 360 degree evaluation for executives, and a "Handbook Supporting Women's Careers" was distributed to raise managers' awareness and change their attitudes toward women. Departmental Managers were provided individually with explanations of these efforts. They also took part in an interview survey. These efforts have yielded concrete results, including the introduction of a "Career Recovery Program", which allows childcare leave without penalties.
From 2008 onwards, efforts to promote diversity and manage work-life balance were strengthened and expanded from a global perspective. To improve employees' awareness and the corporate culture, the website "Diversity & Work-Life Management" was launched on the corporate portal site accessible by all group companies to provide information to all group companies on Ricoh's principles, the direction Ricoh should take, and specific examples of current efforts. In addition, an awareness survey of employees exclusively on work-life management was also conducted with the aim of giving these systems higher recognition, improving employee awareness, and understanding their needs.
Ricoh began its efforts to make the company a more comfortable place to work more than twenty years ago. Specifically to support employee work-life balance, we introduced childcare leave and shorter working hour programs in 1990, before the enactment of the Child Care and Family Care Leave Law by the Government.
The childcare leave program is applicable to employees with children aged two and under. The shorter working hour program, applicable until eligible employees' children complete third grade at elementary school, provides three options for different working hours.
A database site "Employee Support Program Handbook" is available on the corporate intranet which provides a wide range of information, including how to use these programs and reports from male employees who use them. Employees on child care leave are also allowed to access the corporate intranet to alleviate any anxiety over returning to work. In addition, in order to assure a successful return to work, the company has prepared "Communication Guidelines" designed for supervisors and a "Communication Guidebook" designed for users of the programs, which provide detailed information on the programs both to supervisors and users and promote communication in the workplace.
The number of female employees who use these programs started to increase during the late 1990s and reached almost 100% in 2004, and this has been maintained. The percentage of female employees returning to work after childcare leave has remained at 100%. These figures indicate that the efforts to adopt practices to ensure a good work-life balance we started at an early stage have raised employee awareness and helped the programs to be widely recognized.
The Career Recovery Program introduced in 2003 was revised so that the performance appraisal result of employees during their (childcare) leave would not adversely affect their prospects for promotion: in making decisions on the promotion of employees, performance appraisal results from both before and after (childcare) leave must be taken into account. This revision has allowed those returning from a leave of absence to be promoted soon after their return. The number of male employees who take childcare leave has increased in recent years, which can be attributed to the revised Career Recovery Program as well as to the partial introduction of paid childcare leave (up to 10 days within a less than 3-month period).
These various efforts over many years have also led to lengthening the number of years women stay at Ricoh and a decrease in the number of female employees leaving the company. The increase in the years of service for female employees has been particularly significant and, since April 2011, has nearly matched the figures for male employees.
In addition to support maintaining a better work-life balance, our efforts have also been focused on reducing working hours, including improving working styles. Training on personnel labor management for managing employees has been provided to all managers and top executives. Specific measures in place include a system in which checks are made with supervisors if the overtime work of their subordinates exceeds the prescribed hours, as well as Fresh UP Days, under which all staff in principle are encouraged to leave work on time on two common designated days of the week. As a way to facilitate the use of paid leave, specific days and months have been set apart to encourage employees to take such leave. In addition, My Vacation Plan Five (MVP5) was newly launched to promote a five-day consecutive leave period. Ricoh is continuing its efforts to reduce total working hours by curtailing overtime work hours and by promoting the use of paid leave through various systems and programs.
One of the objectives of Ricoh's efforts to promote diversity is to expand opportunities for women in the workplace.
To accelerate the empowerment of female employees, a broad range of positive actions have been implemented based on generation and career stage. For younger female workers, career forums and work-life management forums are organized to raise their awareness of these themes. These events provide lectures on work-life balance support systems and presentations by senior female workers, including managers. Career support programs for candidate managers focus on building adequate mindset and capabilities. These programs have gradually produced the expected results, thus contributing to an expansion in the number of women managers, which represents steady progress toward the achievement of Ricoh’s target of increasing the percentage of women managers to 10% by 2020. Initiatives are also being taken for women managers to further enhance their competence. Specific activities range from meeting and networking opportunities directed at mutual improvement and broadened horizons to plans in supporting the career development of younger women and revitalizing organizations. These efforts are expected to create new value for the corporation.
In addition to the training programs mentioned above, the company also puts emphasis on improving the workplace environment. As one of the efforts aimed at improving the workplace, a "Ricoh Group Diversity Promotion Meeting" has been held since 2008 by group companies in Japan. In these meetings, which are held twice or three times each year, information on best practices from other companies and reports on efforts being made in group companies are provided and discussed by participants. The meetings have enhanced the efforts made by these companies.
Ricoh's efforts to make its work environment comfortable for employees have attracted attention from external parties and have been positively received. Our continuing efforts will be focused on further improving the work environment so that all employees can enjoy working for the company.
[External awards and rankings]
2Ricoh was listed in the Diversity Management Selection 100, a new program run by the Ministryof Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to recognize companies that actively foster workplacediversity and thereby increase their corporate value.
METI kicked off the program in 2012 by citing 43 companies (out of 160 applicants) asdemonstrating best practices in diversity management, which has the potential to be a keydriver of growth. From 2013 onward, awards will be given to an aggregate of 100 companies.
Among the reasons for Ricoh’s inclusion on the list is support programs for employees suchas our Career Recovery Program designed to prevent an employee’s evaluation or promotionfrom being adversely affected by family responsibilities necessitating leave or shorter working hours.
Another reason is Ricoh’s efforts to raise the quality and quantity of opportunities for female employees so that they can maintain andadvance their careers. For example, a growing number of women aretaking overseas assignments offered to young employees by Ricoh’smarketing division. Female involvement has also contributed to thesuccess of CSR programs such as the Base-of-Pyramid business, inwhich a female approach to building and managing businesses hasbeen used to support the independence of women in disadvantagedcommunities.
Diversity Management Selection 100 award ceremony.
Senior Vice President
Ricoh Americas Corporation
At Ricoh Americas "diversity" is much more than just another concept: it's a way of life. "Diversity is first of all a matter of ethics, but not only that," says Donna Venable, Snr VP, Human Resources at Ricoh Americas Corp. "More and more our valued customers want to know how our sales and services are structured around diversity. They are looking for a partner they are comfortable with. In that sense for us diversity is not just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense."
Underpinning all Ricoh Americas’ diversity initiatives is The Diversity and Social Responsibility Council, which serves as an advisory board to senior management. One particularly powerful initiative, is something called "Supplier Diversity," which is both a strategic imperative and a competitive advantage for the company. Simply put Supplier Diversity consists in seeking and expanding partnerships with minority-owned, small, small-disadvantaged, woman-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled-veteran-owned and HUBZone small businesses.