Report on the Third Meeting of the Group DEI Promotion Council

Photo: Eri Yamamoto fist pumping the air with a National Boy doll in her hand, surrounded by workshop participants. Photo: Eri Yamamoto fist pumping the air with a National Boy doll in her hand, surrounded by workshop participants.

The Group DEI Promotion Council is a forum for continuous dialogue on group-wide initiatives, based on a shared understanding of the DEI issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve the Panasonic Group’s commitment to ensuring management that enables each employee to reach their full potential.

The third meeting of the Group DEI Promotion Council was held in October 2022 and attended by the CEOs of operating companies and leaders in charge of human resources. The committee shared examples of actions taken by each operating company from the perspective of DEI as a means of increasing options for all people. We also invited Eri Yamamoto, a Para powerlifting athlete, as a guest speaker to share her thoughts on the question, “What is a disability?” The event was a great opportunity for the participants to learn from Yamamoto about the importance of thinking about things from a different perspective.

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

Message from Yuki Kusumi, CEO

Yuki Kusumi, CEO of Panasonic Holdings Corporation, kicked off the session with the following message to the participants.

“What is the essence of a company’s DEI efforts? I believe it is to broaden the scope of participative management through collective wisdom, so to speak. In other words, we need to be aware of the issues and gather the wisdom of people with different characteristics, and then move quickly to solve the problems at hand. I think the meaning of our DEI activities lies in increasing the speed of our efforts to strengthen our competitiveness.

“I think that a high level of DEI indicates a state in which people from different backgrounds can share their insights in a lively manner. However, sometimes it is difficult to understand the insights of people from different backgrounds. Therefore, it is necessary for the organizational manager to have a deep understanding of those with different attributes, and it is also important to implement measures to ensure that as many people as possible understand them.

“I hope that you will make use of what you learn today in your own department’s efforts.”

Photo: CEO Yuki Kusumi sharing his thoughts.

Sharing DEI action case studies

In this workshop, attendees from Panasonic Connect Co., Ltd., Panasonic Automotive Systems Co., Ltd., and Panasonic Holdings Corporation introduced their unique approaches to DEI.

“Champ” refers to leaders in DEI promotion in each department. The role of Champs is to examine and work on DEI activities and measures in their own departments. Champs also work together to implement initiatives in collaboration with other workplaces.

Panasonic Connect started out by holding Champ Meetings twice a year at the company-wide level. In response to requests for a more casual forum for Champs to meet and exchange information, we now also hold the Champ Cafe once a month.

Champs are involved in a variety of activities. These have included lunch meetings for female members, online cross-communication, live programs using the Teams chat tool, and YURU SPORTS, an event which allows people to enjoy various activities regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability.

DEI can only be achieved when each individual department implements its own initiatives in consideration of the situation of their respective workplaces. We will continue to focus on Champ activities as the nucleus of DEI promotion.

Photos: Scenes from Champ activity YURU SPORTS. Left: Participants enjoy the event while watching images projected on the wall. Center: A participant poses with their arms outstretched and stands on one leg. Right: Two participants compete in an event in which they imitate the facial expressions of the illustrations on the screen. The employee on the left is gritting their teeth, while the one on the right looks surprised.

Related information:

In August 2022, Panasonic Automotive Systems held its first DEI Forum. Under the theme of thinking about the balance between childcare/nursing care and work, Joe Sakai of Lyxis Co., Ltd., a company which provides support to help people achieve a balance between work and nursing care, was invited to give a lecture on achieving a work-life balance. More than 1,200 employees participated, including those at the venue and those watching live via a webcast. In a questionnaire after the event, more than 90% of the participants responded favorably, saying among other things that the lecture gave them a sense of affinity with DEI as something which concerns them too, and that they wanted their families to see the lecture.

In addition, we are also implementing DEI Employee Relay Message, an initiative in which each business unit posts its own thoughts on DEI on the company’s internal social networking service. We aim to foster a company-wide movement by expanding the circle of postings in a relay format, naming the next contributor, and encouraging viewers to participate through comments and reactions. The diversity of posts has resulted in a cumulative total of 1,200 posts and 320,000 views.* We will continue to create further movements that transcend divisional and generational boundaries.

*As of October 2022

Photo: Image of DEI Forum announcement. It features a photo of the lecturer, Joe Sakai, and eight members of the DEI Promotion Office.

Image announcing the Panasonic Automotive Systems (PAS) DEI Forum

The Accessibility Map Project is aimed at creating a map of the company premises which shows accessible routes within the workplace and an access map from the nearest train station to the workplace from the viewpoint of employees who use wheelchairs. Wheelchair users and their colleagues participate in the project by moving around the premises and filling in a blank map.

In this project, the main focus is on having employees gain new perspectives by actually trying out a wheelchair for themselves, as well as on deepening the awareness and thoughts of each participant as they survey the site. Participants share their findings through in-house chat rooms, giving feedback such as, “It is safer to pass through this area,” and “This part is challenging.”

When this activity was publicized on the company’s social networking service, we received a steady stream of feedback from employees who said that they want to take the same approach in their own workplaces. As such, we hope to expand this activity to other sites, including those overseas, as well as Group-wide.

Photos Left: Participants gather on the floor. Several of them are using wheelchairs. Right: A participant passes through a doorway using a wheelchair while holding the door with one hand.

Participants trying out a wheelchair

Photo: A participant sits on a chair at the same eye level as an electric wheelchair user and greets them.

Exchanging business cards with a wheelchair user

Lectures by outside speakers and dialogue with participants

Eri Yamamoto, an active Para powerlifting athlete, gave a lecture titled, “Am I the Future You?” Having been born with a disability and using a wheelchair to get around, she uses her experiences to question what is actually meant by “disability” and the nature of DEI. The participants learned the importance of thinking about these questions from a new perspective.

Photo: Eri Yamamoto gesturing with her hands as she addresses the participants.

Eri Yamamoto, Para powerlifting athlete

A participant asked Yamamoto about the source of her energy to take on new challenges. She responded by saying that the main source of her motivation comes from the excitement she gets from doing what she does, and involving others in this. “In the end, society will not change unless we involve many people. I don’t want a future where children with disabilities think that their dreams cannot be fulfilled. I want to take the lead in creating a society where all children with disabilities can become what they want to be,” she comments.

Following the dialogue with Yamamoto, CEO Kusumi commented, “In essence, a disability means the state of being restricted in one’s options. The importance of removing this limitation and increasing the number of options was a major lesson I learned today. In product development, we need to ask ourselves, ‘Can anyone really use this?’ If not, it is important to make thorough adjustments at the intangible level. I would like to brush up our activities with the perspectives that Yamamoto has shared with us today.”