Highlight Diversity and Work-Life Management
Diversity and work-life management—the aim of the Ricoh Group
Greater contributions from female employees in Japan
Corporate activities are becoming more globalized and companies are expected to understand the differences in cultures and values around the world. In this context, it has become important to build a diversity management system that allows diverse employees to play active roles in their workplace regardless of nationality and gender. In response, the Ricoh Group focuses its efforts simultaneously on promoting diversity and work-life management.
In an effort to promote diversity, we make full use of the diversity of our individual employees (characteristics, values, attributes, etc.) to enhance the performance of our teams, thereby developing new value. One of the most critical challenges in Japan is the more active involvement of female employees in management. To offer more opportunities for women to play leading roles, we not only have to change our awareness but also need a well-developed system to provide them with appropriate opportunities on a global basis.
As we promote work-life balance, employees are encouraged to work effectively to improve productivity, while making time to enjoy a fulfilling life so that they can use the energy generated from this fulfilling life to take on more challenging jobs. We eventually want to create a virtuous circle among our employees. In managing work-life balance, people tend to emphasize how to allocate time between work and private life. However, we put more focus on assessing how successfully and positively individual employees manage their work and private lives so that both are fulfilling. This is how we understand the concept of work-life management.
Adopting various measures to help raise awareness of the work environment to make the company a more comfortable place to work in
Raising awareness of workplace issues
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.
A pioneer in supporting a better work-life balance
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 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 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.
- *percentage of users = number of female employees using the childcare support program/ number of female employees expecting a baby
- *Percentage of employees returning to work = number of female employees returning to work from childcare leave/ number of female employees using the program
- *Number of users gives the total number of employees who actually used the program in each fiscal year.
Career Resumption Program to eliminate the demerits of taking childcare leave
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 leave of absence to be promoted soon after their return. The number of male employees who take childcare leave has been increasing in recent years, which can be attributed to the revised Career Resumption Program.
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, as of April 2011, there is hardly any difference with the figures for male employees.
- *The number of those who left the company for personal reasons alone was used in calculating the rates.
- *The number of employees on the payroll in April for each year was used for the calculation.
Steady reduction in overtime through consistent and persistent efforts
In addition to support for maintaining a better work-life balance, our efforts since 2004 have also been focused on reducing working hours, including improving working styles. Training on human affairs and labor issues for managing employees has been provided to all managers, including top executives, on a regular basis. If there are any employees who have worked at least 40 hours of overtime in a month, a warning is issued to their manager not to allow them to work more than 53 hours overtime per month, the maximum permitted by Ricoh. Another specific effort is the "no overtime day," which is implemented twice a week at all offices and plants. Since 2005, all offices and plants are required to conduct a one-month campaign twice a year to encourage employees to take annual paid holidays. If there are any employees who have not used all of their paid holidays, the company urges their manager to change the working environment to make it easier for those employees to take paid holidays.
Creating a working environment where women can shine
One of the objectives of Ricoh's efforts to promote diversity is to expand opportunities for women in the workplace. The "mentoring program" for female managers is one of these programs. Under this program, one executive member is assigned as mentor for every two female employees who were appointed to a departmental manager's position two to three years ago. The mentor provides advice to help the female managers improve their skills, better understand their own goals as a manager, and develop their career vision from a higher perspective. For candidate managers, career support programs designed to enhance their mindset and improve their skills are available for different levels. These efforts have gradually started to yield positive results, leading to a steady increase in the number of female managers.
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 two to three times by 11 group companies in Japan year in turn. In these meetings, 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.
Lecture: Sandy Smith
Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Education
(formerly) InfoPrint Solutions Company (United States)
At the Seventh Ricoh Group Diversity Promotion Meeting held on February 8, 2011, Sandy Smith, Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Education at the head office of InfoPrint Solutions Company (now RPPS), was invited to give a lecture on diversity. InfoPrint Solutions Company was formerly a joint venture between IBM and Ricoh where the progressive approaches of IBM have been transferred and adopted in an effort to promote diversity. As crosscultural coexistence has increasingly become recognized as common sense, it has become more and more important to welcome individual differences particularly for companies that wish to remain competitive. RPPS promotes the concept of "diversity and inclusion" in daily decision making and workplace practices. This is a concept that is one step beyond the acceptance of diversity—a concept that encourages employees to understand different ways of thinking and seeing the reasons behind the differences. About 60 employees from group companies in Japan attended the lecture, and following the lecture there was a lively discussion.
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]
- ●Received "the Tokyo Labor Bureau Director's Award for Excellence for Companies Promoting Gender Equality" of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (2005).
- ●Ranked 30th in the Nikkei's list of most comfortable companies to work for (2010).
- ●Ranked 9th in the Nikkei Women's list of 100 best companies for women to work for (2011).
- ●Certified by the Tokyo Labor Bureau to provide next generation child support (2007, 2009 and 2011).
Ricoh received the Nikkei Award for Best Companies Supporting Child-Rearing in 2010 for its well-balanced efforts to reduce overtime work and implement programs that facilitate return to work after childcare leave, and for the high rate of use of the childcare leave program both by men and women. This award was launched in 2006 by Nikkei Inc., which invites companies and organizations to apply for the award and selects those with the best programs for supporting child-rearing.