Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group
Each year, Pride Month is an important opportunity to celebrate the contributions of our LGBTQ+ team members, partners and customers around the world. It’s a chance to recognize the individual diversity of our stakeholders and let them know that they are valued for who they are; a chance to reassure employees that they have a safe and inclusive place to work; a chance to show that we are an open-minded and supportive ally.
But this year it’s also something more. For a company like Rakuten that wants to see LGBTQ+ equality, it’s a chance to speak out and take action.
Speak up, speak out
The Japan Association of New Economy and Rakuten have called on Japan’s legislature to pass the Bill for the Promotion of Public Awareness Regarding the Diversity of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (the LGBT Awareness Promotion Bill). Rakuten also openly endorses the Business Support for LGBT Equality in Japan declaration aimed at enacting an LGBT Equality Act.
“Respecting basic human rights is the foundation of social progress. We must build a society where all individuals are empowered to live full lives and actively contribute without discrimination.”Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group
We do this because it is central to our mission as a company. Since founding, Rakuten’s goal has been to empower people and society through innovation and entrepreneurship. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are core to this strategy. This is why Rakuten has committed to establishing a working environment that allows employees with diverse individual characteristics, values and talents to be themselves at work.
Diversity makes us stronger
We must be willing to embrace this, not just on a broad, corporate level but also from the interactions we have with our colleagues every day. It is a given that people are different — we come from different nationalities, different backgrounds, different sexual orientations and gender identities. These differences are more than something we accept; they are part of why we thrive. These differences make us stronger because people with diverse experiences can bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the table.
When we work closely with a diverse team, it makes us better able to understand and resolve problems. If you are managing a team, sometimes things don’t go well or sometimes your team members are not very happy. You need to put yourself in their shoes and think: How would I feel if I were them? You need to consider the issue as if you were him, her or them and think about why they feel a certain way. Having the ability to think from the other side of the river is very important. The more we embrace diversity and inclusion, the more we acquire that ability.
“These differences make us stronger because people with diverse experiences can bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the table.”
Of course, there will be times when there are differences of opinion within an organization, but by remaining open with our colleagues and listening generously, we can move forward together.
I’m hearing there are obstacles in getting the LGBT Awareness Promotion Bill into law in Japan this year, but I am encouraging lawmakers to overcome these hurdles and make this a reality. Respecting basic human rights is the foundation of social progress. We must build a society where all individuals are empowered to live full lives and actively contribute without discrimination. Ultimately, it is essential to Japan’s ability to innovate and be competitive on the world stage.