Creating Workplaces in which Everyone Can Fulfill their Potential Based on a Foundation of Respect for the Individual

  • Shinichi Ohkubo
  • Executive Vice President & Representative Director
    Personnel & Labor Relations Division

Diversity Has Given Rise to Innovation and Supported the Expansion of Business

Since its founding in 1900, Toppan has expanded its operations by leveraging the unique technologies and expertise developed in its core business of printing. I believe that this was driven by innovation born out of the coming together of wide-ranging insights, experiences, perspectives, abilities, and sensibilities. The fusion of these elements shapes Toppan’s unique approach to diversity and inclusion and has been the driving force behind our history of innovation.

Today, Toppan engages in multifarious businesses that cater to more than 20,000 client companies. As social trends accelerate, Toppan needs to stay at the forefront of such trends and address them as we expand business, so that we continue to be an integral part of society. To respond to change and the trust and expectations of customers, we need all our employees to create solutions enabled by their diverse capabilities. That is why diversity and inclusion are vital for Toppan.

Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Based on a DNA of Respect for the Individual

Throughout the Company’s history, Toppan’s leaders have always espoused the philosophy of respect for the individual. To put this into practice, the Personnel & Labor Relations Division continues to create frameworks and working environments that enable all employees to fully leverage their skills, knowledge, and experience and work with motivation, vitality, and commitment. In collaboration with the labor union, we have established a labor-management committee for the promotion of job satisfaction and implemented a variety of measures based on discussions that have taken place.

Through these initiatives, employees have come to recognize and respect each other’s individuality and make the most of their capabilities in their work. I feel that the concept of respect for the individual is deep-rooted at the Company. However, we need to implement measures that are even more strategic and clear-cut to ensure sustainable growth. We thought that if initiatives we have implemented based on the philosophy of respect for the individual are reframed within the framework of diversity and inclusion, and awareness of them is strengthened, employees will be able to act on their own initiative. Based on this thinking, we established the Diversity & Inclusion Promotion Office in April 2019.

With a dedicated department, it is now possible to make announcements and provide explanations based on disseminating information from a single point and consolidating it through the lens of diversity and inclusion. I feel that we can now give a clearer indication of what Toppan is aiming for and the path that we should take. I believe that the role of the Diversity & Inclusion Promotion Office will continue to grow to enable us to provide information with clarity to parties both inside and outside the Company and to accelerate our activities.

Consistent Progress Generated by Steady Efforts

We take pride in being a pioneer in diversity and inclusion. However, we need to strengthen our activities further as there are still issues to address and areas in which we are not yet where we should be.

From here on we need to be more conscious of diversity and inclusion, make it an integral part of management, and reflect it in decision-making. With the advance of globalization, we are seeing an increase in the employment of foreign nationals and personnel with career experience in other sectors. We have to work on building the foundations on which such people can maximize their potential and thrive at Toppan.

For the employment of persons with disabilities, I think it is essential to provide environments in which people can work with motivation, vitality, and commitment. It is important that employees are able to fully leverage their skills and strengths, take on their work proactively while establishing cooperative frameworks, and fulfill the Company’s social responsibilities together. For example, T.M.G. Prepress Toppan Co., Ltd., a joint venture with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo’s Itabashi City, takes on various work for Toppan and is now indispensable in supporting what we do.

We have also been active in addressing LGBT issues from an early stage. It is very important that everyone has their own unique perspective and reflects that in their work. It is said that around 8% of people are in the LGBT demographic, but gender identity and sexual identity are broad spectrums for everyone. We want everyone to respect each other’s individuality and make the most of their skills and characteristics and also to be conscious of the goal of creating an environment in which diversity of all kinds is acknowledged and accepted.

Bringing Toppan’s Diversity and Inclusion to Wider Society

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become commonplace and the ways in which we communicate have changed. For example, Toppan has been proactive in introducing online meetings, and an added benefit has been the inclusiveness generated by people being able to discuss matters without being conscious of people’s job titles and to speak on equal terms regardless of position.

I hope we can take our experience of diversity and inclusion as a company, what we have done, and the results we have seen, including the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, and be proactive in sharing it with wider society. The reason for this is that what Toppan is aiming for is not just the advancement of diversity and inclusion at our company, but in society as a whole. Toppan will continue to undertake such initiatives to contribute to creating a sustainable society filled with diversity.

Workplaces that Accommodate All Abilities

As part of its diversity and inclusion initiatives, Toppan has made efforts to support the working lives of persons with disabilities. Employees with disabilities all make vital contributions to Toppan, and the Company is driving development of and support for job categories and working environments that enable everyone to build on their individual strengths and characteristics to create social value together.

Where people with disabilities work at Toppan 1

Toppan Electronics Products Shiga Plant

Osamu Fukunaga (left) and Yoshiki Hiramatsu (right) maintain close communication while keeping an eye on colleagues to ensure that operations progress smoothly.

An Indispensable Team of Four People with Disabilities

Toppan Electronics Products handles the manufacturing operations of the Toppan Group’s Electronics business. Its Shiga Plant has been employing people with disabilities since 2001.

Mayumi Yoshida, a manager from the plant’s general affairs department, says, “When we first started to recruit people with disabilities, we experienced problems with communication due to a lack of understanding on our part, and we encountered such issues as employees finding it difficult to remember what to do. From 2008, we temporarily suspended recruitment of people with disabilities, but we started again in 2015, collaborating with local high schools for people with disabilities and Hello Work, the Japanese government’s Employment Service Center. To improve the process of bringing people into the company, we use work experience to enable them to see what the workplace and the work done are like. This also enables us to get an idea of people’s individual interests and aptitude, which has made the process of joining the company much smoother.”

Toppan Electronics Products initially started by recruiting and assigning people to workplaces where large color filter panels are packaged. Work was subsequently expanded to areas where the cores of anti-reflection film rolls are prepared for reuse.

Plant manager Toru Ogura says, “This process involves taking the cores of anti-reflection film rolls after use, wiping away any dirt, and repairing any damage. The operation is now handled completely by a team of four people with disabilities. When doing this work, employees have to be able to assess how much dirt needs to be wiped off and identify cores that cannot be used again. The experience that the team has accumulated has enabled them to do that. We are able to process about 700 cores per month in house, which makes a considerable contribution to cost saving.”

Clear Communication Builds Trust

Various measures have been taken in consideration of people with disabilities in the area in which cores are prepared for reuse. Supervisor Osamu Fukunaga and employee Yoshiki Hiramatsu look back on what has been done so far:

“The area in which the work is performed is inside the warehouse, so to begin with the lighting and air conditioning needed improvement,” says Fukunaga. “We gradually worked on creating a better working environment by taking such measures as replacing equipment to make it easier to perform the task and increasing the number of dollies used for transporting things. When Yoshiki came to work here, it was the first time I had really had any contact with a person with a disability, so I have to admit I was anxious about what I should be doing. However, I looked at the individual and worked out how to communicate. Originally, I gave instructions for setup and process management, but Yoshiki has become the leader and has taken over all of the management duties for this work.”

Hiramatsu says, “When I started to work here, I was nervous about working with people, but Mr. Fukunaga communicated with me well, and I began to really enjoy the work after about six months. Before I was given the responsibility of being the leader, all I thought I had to do was to follow instructions, but my thinking has changed now. I study what is going on by confirming instructions supervisors have given or watching the work that other people are doing. When someone new joins us, I know that they will be nervous, so I make an effort to help them get used to working here. I focus on communication and make a point of talking to them during break times and giving them encouragement if they make a mistake.”

Fukunaga adds, “The four people working here all have their own unique individual personalities and characteristics, and the time they take to perform tasks differs, too. With Yoshiki taking the lead, I hope they can make further improvements and gradually increase efficiency.”

“The volume of work varies from month to month, but I have become more confident that by checking schedules and giving instructions to the team as its leader, I can help us to work hard and get through the busy periods,” says Hiramatsu. “I take a lot of satisfaction from consistently meeting the standards required. There are people around us who I want to learn from in terms of techniques but also as human beings, so I intend to work hard to get closer to that ideal.”

The Shiga Plant has become a model for the employment of persons with disabilities at Toppan, and the Group intends to steadily continue these initiatives.

Plant manager Ogura closes by saying, “Workplaces that include people with disabilities are not special environments at our plant. The people working there all take part in team meetings and events and exchange ideas to produce synergies. I intend to continue our efforts to create workplaces and plants that provide good working conditions for everyone.”

Where people with disabilities work at Toppan 2

T.M.G. Prepress Toppan
Co., Ltd.

T.M.G. Prepress Toppan handles a variety of office and administration work for Toppan’s operational sites. Employees with disabilities (known as “Friendly Staff”) work at the Toppan sites, which fosters diverse perspectives and drives change in the way people work.

Employees from T.M.G. Prepress Toppan working inside an office at Toppan’s Akihabara site in Tokyo provide office support services, such as internal mail delivery, shredding of documents, data input, sorting and dispatch of items to be distributed to employees, and digitalization of hard copy documents.

Teruhiko Munekata
  • Teruhiko Munekata
  • Director & Head of General Affairs

T.M.G. Prepress Toppan was established in 1993 through joint investment by Toppan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and Itabashi City, one of Tokyo’s wards. It is a model company for the employment of people with severe disabilities. Our Akihabara location for providing office support currently has 13 staff with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

I have been involved in labor-related work for a long time at Toppan, but I feel it is very challenging to assess the extent to which labor management should intrude into the minds of employees, especially those with psychiatric disabilities. However, it is my mission to create frameworks in which every employee can continue to make small steps and stand on their own two feet. We will always aim to be the number one company in providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Chiemi Hori
  • Chiemi Hori
  • Head of Human Resource Development Office and Certified Social Worker

Our Akihabara office is next to the Toppan Printing head office building, so we are driving initiatives that can be model cases for the employment of people with disabilities throughout the Toppan Group. When advancing human resource development, I am mindful of ensuring that the entire team shares the same mental model. For example, we make sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction by regularly conducting social skills training, either through group discussions focusing on a particular issue or through encouraging people to act directly. We separate and segmentalize “work” and “social skills”, and encourage people to see the two combined as forming their “job.” By combining this with looking back on what people have done each week, we target the fulfillment of their potential. This is one of the indicators for their personal growth, and their committed efforts to take on challenges are a great asset for the company.

I hope we can share the know-how we have accumulated regarding the employment of people with disabilities with the rest of the Toppan Group and wider society, as well.

Yutaka Fushiki
  • Yutaka Fushiki
  • Job Coach
    Office Service Akihabara Group
    Operational Support
    Manufacturing Department

Another coach and I work at the Akihabara office. The employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities are very good at following instructions, and this means that the coach has a significant influence on them. You gain a great deal of satisfaction when you consider that the growth and skills of the coaches are indispensable to the growth of each employee. We recognize the importance of people being autonomous in their work and place a lot of value on interacting with them as members of society while also maintaining appropriate distance and not micromanaging. For example, we let employees handle the work themselves from the stage of preparation, without setting it up for them. If there was something an employee did not understand, we used to ask them to raise their hand and a coach would go to help them, but these days we have them go to the coach they want to ask a question to. Doing this has enabled us to enhance their work skills and experience. Going forward, I think it will be important to strengthen understanding regarding people with disabilities within the Toppan Group and foster personnel who will fulfill the role of coaches.

  • Itsuzo Ichinose
  • Director

T.M.G. Prepress Toppan handles a variety of work for the Toppan Group, from DTP production to the design and development of automated typesetting systems. Taking on that kind of work allows Toppan’s employees to focus on their core work. I think this also contributes to changing the way in which people work. I place value on a mutually-beneficial relationship. Things that people without disabilities think of as routine, are not necessarily things that people with disabilities see the same way. If people do not understand and consider this, people with and without disabilities will find it hard to work together. We will continue to take on challenges to allow the infinite potential of each and every employee to flourish.

Work-Life Balance

  • Based on an approach of supporting people’s desire to work, Toppan strives to establish environments that facilitate a balance between people’s work and their private lives.

    In addition to enhancing and expanding a range of programs to support the balancing of work and childcare, Toppan runs the Hagukumi (nurturing) Program, which provides support for the mental wellbeing of employees with childcare responsibilities.

    To provide support for people balancing work with nursing care, Toppan focuses on initiatives that can alleviate concerns and allow employees to work with peace of mind. These include the enhancement of support programs, the provision of information to employees, and the holding of seminars.

  • The Hagukumi Art Salon, part of the Hagukumi Program

Promoting Understanding of LGBT Issues

  • Toppan is undertaking various activities to promote understanding of LGBT issues and ensure working environments in which everyone feels comfortable.

    One of these efforts is the holding of LGBT seminars open to Group employees. In 2018, LGBT activist Koyuki Higashi spoke about diversity in the workplace, and in 2019, diversity and inclusion consultant Kayo Fujiwara gave a talk on gender and sexual diversity. These seminars provided forums in which employees could further their understanding of LGBT-related matters and engage in dialogue about them. The Company endeavors to ensure that its programs and systems support the diverse living styles of its employees and on July 1, 2020, revised its systems related to the spouses of employees to make them applicable to same-sex and common-law partners.

  • LGBT-related open seminar conducted by Kayo Fujiwara

Diversity and Inclusion Are Driving Forces for Change at Toppan

  • Chizuko Sawada
  • Head of Diversity & Inclusion Promotion Office and General Manager of Human Resource Development Center
    Personnel & Labor Relations Division

Toppan’s business relies upon our ability to empathize with other people and understand and give form to something that may not be easy to express visually or verbally. I think that DNA translates to diversity and inclusion.

The various parts of Toppan have been proactive in undertaking diversity-related initiatives. However, if we consider such factors as changes in society and the amendment of legislation, it becomes clear that we need to position diversity and inclusion as driving forces for change and ensure that everyone throughout the Company shares the same awareness of objectives. In April 2019, therefore, we established the Diversity & Inclusion Promotion Office. The roles of this office include working with various divisions of the Company to enhance activities and increasing the speed at which we make progress to ensure that we are in line with changes in wider society. We have three people in our team at the head office, but we have also appointed personnel at sites throughout Japan to be part of a diversity promotion committee, and we advance activities while collaborating and sharing information with them.

The establishment of the Diversity & Inclusion Promotion Office has also made it possible to make recommendations directly to management. I believe that widespread recognition of the importance of diversity for management strategy will give momentum to promoting it throughout the Company. From here on, I see the key to inclusion being the degree to which we can ensure psychological safety for each and every employee. This is not just restricted to the employment of people with disabilities or LGBT-related initiatives, but includes the creation of workplaces that enable job satisfaction for everyone as the way in which we work changes, for example, with the expansion of working from home. To achieve this, we need to transform, almost to turn conventional approaches and thinking on their head. We will change the organization by respecting, valuing, and leveraging our differences. At the same time, we will make steady efforts in a range of areas to promote diversity and inclusion at Toppan while fostering personnel who will drive diversity for the next generation.