There are various ways to define the word diversity, but the simplest definition for our purposes states that it is "the difference between people.” It can also refer to both differences and similarities. In Japanese, we use the word tayousei.
The Japan Federation of Employers' Association, Nikkeiren, offers this definition*: “A business strategy that recognizes differing attributes such as gender, age and nationality, as well as ideas and values different from those considered commonplace in the workplace and Japanese society, and utilizes them to quickly and flexibly deal with changes in the business environment, leading to expanded profits. Also, to that end, diversity uses continuous and assertive engagement to construct a system of human resources that works toward the utilization of those differing attributes and differing ideas.”
(*Translated from the "Diversity Work Rule Seminar 2002”)
Standard assessments of diversity include differences we can easily see (appearance, gender, age, work style, and so on), differences we can't immediately perceive (experience, upbringing, culture, religion, education, social status, groups and affiliations), and psychological inclinations such as personal values, lifestyle, and attitudes toward a job, career, and the group/organization.
Historically, when the prevailing sentiment in Japan was that monoculturalism was a positive thing in an organization, great emphasis was placed on everyone being the same, and being different typically caused a person to be marginalized or excluded according to the "the nail which sticks up gets hammered down" way of thought.
Being diverse means different people co-exist, but it does not mean they are all able to make the best of their talent. This is called “diversity in a box” and leads to the danger of losing the talent you've gone through the trouble of seeking out. So it is crucial to secure top human resources and enhancing their capabilities.
GEWEL's concept of diversity and inclusion (D&I) is doing business based on the idea that "people are the foundation of management." If people are considered easily replaceable and interchangeable, however, it can be difficult to establish the roots of the D&I concept.
People are naturally all different. Respecting their differences and drawing out people's abilities and making them assets to the organization are associated with sustainable growth, both for the individual and the organization.
Though certain organizations focus more on inclusion than diversity, conflict and tension still occur naturally from differences of values, convictions and priorities of different people.
Why this tension and conflict occurs is a question that has been asked since time immemorial. People use themselves as the standard, and it can be difficult to understand what others decide, think and do, and what standards they base their decisions and actions on.
If you avoid this question and manage your business or organization based solely on feigned positive interaction, you will be unable to motivate your employees or inspire a high degree of loyalty in them.
Up until now, D&I training in Japan that involves talking out conflicts and how to compromise has remained relatively uncommon.
Standard diversity training has examined diversity we can see—gender, generation, disabilities, and so on—and has only gotten to the point that it attempts to incorporate that segment into the organization. There are still instances in which D&I is perceived as related solely to women in the workplace.
To understand inclusion, it is helpful to consider it in terms of a comparison between "insider and outsider," as anyone can be either.
If you were to practice D&I at your organization, you need to consider which segment needs to be worked on, and what course of action would best match your corporate strategy.
It can be nearly impossible to find the best practices for your company. How will you put forth your value as an organization? This concerns not just the members, but clients, shareholders, suppliers and other stakeholders, and it may very well be achieved only in relation with global considerations.
Understanding the aforementioned differences you can see, and the ones you can't see immediately—plus all the conflicts, feelings, and misperceptions—and practicing D&I on a global basis is a journey without a final destination. It is an endless path of continuous growth.
Below is an image of the process of engaging your organization in diversity and inclusion.