TOKYO >>Japanese companies are making greater efforts to accommodate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in their workplaces.
In May the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) formulated its first guidelines on this subject, indicating points to be noted in areas such as operating personnel systems and recruiting new employees. It also called for companies to work to eliminate discrimination against LGBT people.
It can be difficult to ascertain the actual situation of LGBT people, however, and companies are sometimes unsure what measures are suitable. Keidanren’s guidelines list considerations and measures for LGBT people in areas ranging from in-house systems such as recruitment, personnel affairs and support programs, to accommodating LGBT clients and customers.
The guidelines propose, among other measures:
>> Removing the box for indicating gender from recruitment entry sheets.
>> Expanding the scope of people eligible for family cellphone discount plans to include same-sex partners.
In July, Kirin Holdings Co. added same-sex partners to the definition of “spouses of employees” to make them eligible for family separation allowances and congratulatory or condolence leave.
A major information technology company began paying congratulatory money several years ago to employees who are in a relationship with a same-sex partner that is tantamount to marriage. A 39-year-old gay man who received a congratulatory payment currently lives apart from his partner for work purposes, and he receives a family separation allowance.
“After the company introduced this system, I could come out at work,” he said. “Now I can manage interpersonal relations more smoothly and have more motivation to contribute at the company.”
Companies began making full-scale efforts to help LGBT employees as, with the Japanese population declining, it is essential to utilize various human resources to enhance their competitiveness.
According to a survey conducted by Keidanren in March on its member entities, with 233 companies and organizations replying, 42.1 percent of the respondents said they have introduced some measures concerning LGBT people, while 34.3 percent replied they are considering introducing such measures.
Measures in Europe and the United States are more progressive.
The European Union prohibited workplace discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and other reasons in 2000, while European countries have legalized same-sex marriage one after another, according to Keidanren. In the United States the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that existing state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
As public understanding toward same-sex marriage has deepened, more companies have developed and improved relevant systems.
“Due to a labor shortage, many companies are increasingly feeling a sense of urgency that they will not able to secure talent unless they become able to accept more diversity,” said Yoko Yajima, a chief researcher at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co.