JIC Group Held
LGBTQ Training
as Part of
DE&I Initiative

As part of its commitment to DE&I, the JIC Group held a training session, “Considering the Significance of Diversity Promotion from the Perspective of LGBTQ and SOGI,” for all executives and employees. Following is an interview with guest lecturer Shinya Arita, director of the non-profit organization Nijiiro Diversity.

Shinya Arita

Director, NPO Nijiiro Diversity

Born in 1986 in Nara Prefecture, he graduated from Kinki University’s Faculty of Science. His background is in hotel and restaurant management. Having experienced the positive impact of a psychologically safe workplace at his previous employer, he supports the introduction of LGBTQ policies under the motto of “creating psychologically safe workplaces.” He has practical experience supporting the implementation of LGBTQ policies at many major corporations and government agencies.

― How did you feel about JIC Group's LGBTQ training session?

The participants were very positive about the training. Since President Keisuke Yokoo himself spearheads DE&I promotion within the JIC Group, and the management team is enthusiastic about it, I expected participants to quickly grasp this training as well. That being the case, the training not only covered basic knowledge about LGBTQ and SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression), the difficulties people face, and how to respond when asked, but we were also able to discuss diversity issues other than LGBTQ.

― What kind of impact do you expect from the session?

By addressing LGBTQ issues and creating a work environment in which all employees approach minority issues as their own, we hope to create a virtuous cycle in which psychological safety in the workplace increases and more people feel comfortable speaking up as themselves, regardless of their identity or circumstances. I believe that such an environment can also be a source of innovation.

― The JIC Group also strives to create innovation by promoting DE&I.

The JIC Group's commitment to DE&I is based on the firm belief that diversity can generate innovative ideas and invigorate the country and industry; we feel the same way about LGBTQ issues. At the beginning of the session, President Yokoo talked about “starting with what we know,” but I think many people are unsure about LGBTQ issues in particular because they have had few opportunities to learn about them in the first place. One reason for promoting DE&I is that mutual understanding leads to innovation – but the process itself is difficult to grasp and can be frustrating for some people. The more we learn about DE&I and the less obscure it becomes, the easier it will be to understand its importance and effectiveness. I am work with LGBTQ and other DE&I issues on a daily basis, and am convinced that promoting DE&I will lead to innovation.

― What are some of the key aspects of dealing with LGBTQ issues?

As I mentioned during the training session, some people may feel that LGBTQ is a matter of taste or preference, but your sexuality is not something you choose. We need to share a common understanding that LGBTQ is a human rights issue. LGBTQ policies need to be implemented with consideration for both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people, and with a common understanding that LGBTQ is a human rights issue and through continued dialogue, LGBTQ people and various stakeholders will be able to address everyday issues from the same perspective.

― What is the best way to address minority issues in the workplace?

I feel that words, actions, and attitudes toward one minority issue will probably have an impact on people with other minority issues. All DE&I issues are connected. To leave a positive impact on as many people as possible, I would ask people to reflect on their preconceived notions. Since we are often unaware of our prejudices, I believe that ongoing training programs such as this one will help foster a comfortable work environment for everyone. Creating opportunities to listen to people with different characteristics, and repeating the process of changing preconceived notions when you notice them, is also effective. When promoting DE&I initiatives, the management team’s enthusiastic support will be conveyed to the frontlines, magnifying the impact. It is reassuring to see that President Yokoo is taking the lead in promoting DE&I measures. As more people in the company cultivate a proper understanding, employee comments and other behavior will change, and you will be able to feel DE&I permeating throughout the organization. Diversity will become increasingly more important in the future, and I look forward to continuing to work together with everyone in the future.

(left: Keisuke Yokoo, CEO, JIC, right: Shinya Arita, Director, Nijiiro Diversity)

During a discussion between Arita and President Yokoo following the training session, they exchanged opinions on how to address DE&I issues, touching on the JIC Group's efforts to promote diversity in the startup ecosystem through support for women entrepreneurs and capitalists. LGBTQ issues sometimes require consideration of anonymity, so when promoting DE&I in a company, it is important to begin by securing a commitment from management, and then, while listening to the opinions of those involved, to visualize concrete initiatives that include an Equity perspective and expand the network to include people who are not usually involved in LGBTQ issues, thereby accelerating the process.  Arita and Yokoo also agreed that dialog with JIC Group investees can deepen mutual understanding among stakeholders of the need to respect human rights and other issues.

About NPO Nijiiro Diversity

Nijiiro Diversity is a certified NPO that protects the dignity and rights of sexual minorities such as LGBTQ, their families, and allies, and aims to realize a society where no one is left behind. Nijiiro Diversity provides LGBTQ training for companies and local governments, conducts joint surveys and research with academic institutions, and hold events with governments and other organizations. In addition to offering information, consultations, a safe place, and events related to sexual minorities, the organization’s Pride Center Osaka in Tenmabashi, Osaka also functions as a permanent learning space for social issues such as LGBTQ, gender equality, and the SDGs.