Report on the First Meeting of the Group DEI Promotion Council

Photo: Diverse employees, CEOs of operating companies, and Group CEO Kusumi participating in the Group DEI Promotion Council Photo: Diverse employees, CEOs of operating companies, and Group CEO Kusumi participating in the Group DEI Promotion Council

The Group DEI Promotion Council is a forum for Panasonic colleagues to share a common understanding of DEI issues that are hindering the management from enabling each employee to reach their full potential, and to engage in ongoing dialogue on Group-wide DEI initiatives.

A total of 27 people participated online in the first Group DEI Promotion Council meeting, held in February 2022, including seven CEOs from operating companies, the CEOs of Panasonic Holdings and Panasonic Operational Excellence, and 18 employees from diverse backgrounds who are committed to DEI promotion. The participants were able to gain a variety of new insights as they shared their perspectives on real issues on the frontlines of DEI issues. They also engaged in dialogue about future actions.

All information and persons is accurate to the time of the events.

Themes of dialogue

Dialogue was held under the theme of building a culture of psychological safety at work, with the following goals.

Message from Yuki Kusumi, CEO

Photo: Yuki Kusumi

The council kicked off with a message from Yuki Kusumi, CEO of Panasonic Holdings Corporation.
His message was as follows.

“Why do I see DEI as an important strategic element? There are two reasons: One is the diversity perspective. The Panasonic Group's customers are becoming more diverse, and their needs are also diversifying.”

“To understand this as an organization, it is vitally important to bring together a diverse group of people and to allow them to express their individuality.”

“Another is the importance of inclusion and equity. Inclusion is a state in which everyone is welcomed into the organization and feels psychologically comfortable to participate in discussions and decision-making processes within the organization. Equity is a state in which every individual's characteristics and the different needs that stem from those characteristics are recognized by the company and the organization, and opportunities are guaranteed for every individual to grow, challenge themselves, and demonstrate their full potential.”
“Therefore, taking DEI actions is the top priority for the practice of participative management through collective wisdom. The prerequisite for this is psychological safety. Today's Group DEI Promotion Council itself is a venue for participants to take the initiative in saying what needs to be said.”

“I hope that organizational leaders will take this opportunity to listen actively to the speakers to obtain a real picture of DEI issues in the workplaces, which they do not usually have a chance to hear about. The employees participating in today's meeting are playing the role of teachers. I want the leaders to be reminded of how little management understands the problems employees face at their places of work. I hope that the discussions can be developed based on comments from employees to determine the actions to be taken at each operating company, as well as the Group as a whole.”

Dialogue in teams

Employees from diverse backgrounds (foreign nationals, mid-career employees, women, employees with disabilities, etc.) with thoughts on promoting DEI and managers were divided into 3 small groups to have a discussion. The participating members discussed current workplace issues related to psychological safety and the actions that need to be taken, based on their own experiences to date. The following are some of the issues that came up.

  • Some employees have felt barriers to communication because they do not understand the company's unique terminology.
  • Different opinions, cultures, and customs are sometimes not accepted in the organization.
  • Without feedback from superiors, some employees tend to give up and think it is pointless to say or suggest anything.
  • Positive self-disclosure and polite communication would be helpful.
  • Everyone makes mistakes. It is important to acknowledge mistakes and try to correct them each time.
  • Managers and general managers themselves need to feel comfortable saying what they need to say and have a high level of psychological safety.
  • It is necessary to recognize and respect the characteristics, skills, and experience of every individual, regardless of whether or not they have a disability.

Post-dialogue observations and feedback

Through this dialogue, the CEOs of each operating company were able to gain a variety of insights from the real issues at their workplaces and from the frank opinions of their employees. Employees who participated in the program gave mixed feedback, with some saying they appreciated the opportunity to exchange opinions with management and others saying it was indigestible due to time constraints. We will hold the second and third meetings in FY2023 to further discuss the issues and take action.

*Definition of terms used on this section:
- Fiscal year: from April 1 to March 31 of the following year (e.g. Fiscal 2021: April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021)

"It was great to hear such wonderful opinions from such a diverse group of people."
"I would like to create an environment where those who raise issues are appreciated and supported by others."
"I felt that ensuring the psychological safety of middle management is an important issue."
"I would like to identify each person's problems and take steps to solve them."

Illustration: Image of operating company CEOs

It was good to be able to exchange opinions with the top management. However, due to the limited time, we were not able to fully discuss the issues, and I felt a little uncertain about whether or not we were able to get our message across to them.

It is a great hope that the management took our voices seriously and boldly declared that the company should make improvements. I hope that this kind of dialogue can also be expanded to operating companies and workplaces.