Ahead of International Pride Month this year, Rakuten showed up and showed out at Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2022 to celebrate the first time in three years that the event has been held in person.
At the event space in Yoyogi Park, the Rakuten employee-driven initiatives curated for Rainbow Pride caught the attention of festival goers over the event’s three days. With a booth staffed by members of the Rakuten LGBT+ Network* and allies, this year’s Pride event saw the global tech company host an inviting photo booth that encouraged all attendees to participate and show their pride, whether as members of the LGBTQ+ community or as allies.
Rakuten also conducted a survey to gauge public opinion on which area of their lives LGBTQ+ people could most benefit from increased support. This year’s event continued creating conversations on the importance of equality and helping gain insights on how companies can better serve and empower the LGBTQ+ community in Japan.
LGBTQ+ visibility at Rakuten
Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Rakuten’s ethics, as it has always been the company’s mission to empower all individuals, no matter their background, gender identity or sexual orientation. Launched in June 2016 and officially established in 2017, the Rakuten LGBT+ Network is one of the first of its kind among homegrown Japanese companies and works across Rakuten departments to provide visibility on LGBTQ+ issues, advise on inclusive policy and educate employees.
“It is important to make sure everybody is seen and heard, that their experiences are validated and that they know they can rely on Rakuten as an organization that will support them.”MASATADA “SEICHU” KOBAYASHI, RAKUTEN CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF WELL-BEING OFFICER
Rakuten’s spirit of LGBTQ+ empowerment is not limited to only its employees — it extends to a diverse portfolio of company services and corporate functions. From sharing a Rakuten Card family credit card with a partner of the same sex, to being able to nominate a same-sex partner as a beneficiary for a Rakuten Insurance life insurance policy, Rakuten’s efforts in providing visibility and accessibility to the LGBTQ+ community is one that evolves year by year.
Notably, in 2021, Rakuten Bank collaborated with Miyoshi Real Estate to offer Rakuten Bank LGBT Home Loans to Miyoshi Real Estate customers, marking a big step forward for equality in the housing market. Similarly, in 2017, Rakuten Bank became the first bank operating in Japan to offer home loan services to LGBTQ+ couples without requiring official partnership documentation.
How Rakuten is paving the way for Diversity & Inclusion in Japan
“This organization may have many different types of people, but we all share a common principle of working as one team and creating an environment of belonging — something that is based on Rakuten Shugi (Rakuten’s Principles for Success). I believe solidifying our D&I practices and supporting all the people at Rakuten is the key to our success as a company,” shared Rakuten co-founder and Chief Well-Being Officer Masatada “Seichu” Kobayashi, who attended Tokyo Rainbow Pride for the first time this year.
“There are so many different meanings to well-being. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ also have their own definition of well-being. I need to be able to see and understand their reality and hear their opinions and challenges as another individual as well — not just because I am an executive officer in the company,” Kobayashi said as he stressed the importance of attending events such as Tokyo Rainbow Pride.
“I need to think not only about the general well-being of our employees, but also check in on the well-being of the different communities within our company. It is important to make sure everybody is seen and heard, that their experiences are validated and that they know they can rely on Rakuten as an organization that will support them.”
A continuing need for change
When asked about how Rakuten is responding to the changing needs of its vast user base, Koyabashi offered the following insights.
“I believe solidifying our D&I practices and supporting all the people at Rakuten is the key to our success as a company.”MASATADA “SEICHU” KOBAYASHI
“With 100 million Rakuten members in Japan alone, most of Japan’s population has some kind of Rakuten service membership. There are so many services to enjoy in our ecosystem, which means Rakuten has to be a leader for change and advancement in society. As industry leaders, we need to lead by example. That is why we have focused so much energy in forming our D&I and sustainability committees. We need to get the function heads and the regional heads of our different businesses to be in constant communication with each other to ensure we all learn to better ourselves and our services to accept everybody — and we need to work on this together.”
Rakuten remains dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and its allies both inside and outside the company. While much progress is still to be made in confronting prejudice and creating a more equal and inclusive society, the company is keen to lead the charge for positive change — not just during Pride Month, but for the months and years to follow.
*While “LGBT+” was selected for the network’s name, it is inclusive of sexual orientations and gender identities.