Aiming to Create Workplaces in Which Everyone Can Work with Enthusiasm
Tokio Marine Group actively promotes the employment of persons with disabilities with the aim of becoming a corporate group in which diverse human resources can work with vitality and enthusiasm. In 2010, we established Tokio Marine Business Support (TMBS) to further advance the employment of persons with disabilities. This company has been approved as a special subsidiary company, which is a first for the non-life insurance industry. Around 700 employees with disabilities are currently working within Tokio Marine Group. Of these, 101 employees (as of August 1, 2014) mainly with intellectual and developmental disabilities, whom are considered to have fewer employment opportunities, work at TMBS. TMBS teamed up with Tokio Marine & Nichido Outsourcing Management (TMO), which handles various services for Tokio Marine Group, to undertake a project in 2013 for the employment and creation of work for persons with disabilities. The aim of the project is to promote the employment of persons with disabilities throughout the Group.
- Q Can you tell us the background to the establishment of TMBS?
Yamada: It is said that among the roughly 2.1 million persons with mental or developmental disabilities of working age between 18 to 65, around 100,000 are actively employed in the corporate world. It is also said that around 25% of graduates from special needs schools nationwide are working for a company. On the corporate side, people have concerns about not knowing what jobs to entrust to persons with disabilities despite wanting to employ them and not knowing how to approach them. Most of the persons with disabilities employed by companies in Tokio Marine Group in the past have physical disabilities. Accordingly, we established TMBS to broaden employment opportunities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and this company is building up practical experience and know-how. At present, TMBS has 99 employees with such disabilities.
- Q What kind of work are persons with disabilities mainly engaged in?
Yamada: They provide support to Tokio Marine Group companies through services such as data input, document delivery and printing. One of the services, the collection and disposal of confidential documents, is handled via wet shredding, which fiberizes paper using water rather than traditional strip or cross-cut shredding. This ensures information security while also contributing to environmental preservation. One supervisor is assigned to a group of five persons with disabilities to keep an eye on the aptitude of each individual while leaving the work up to them. This helps each person feel like a contributing member of society who earns a salary and pays taxes in the same way as other ordinary citizens.
- Q How is the collaborative project between TMBS and TMO progressing?
Chineke: Expanding employment of persons with disabilities is a groupwide challenge. TMO, which handles various business accounting services for Tokio Marine Group, started a collaborative project at the TMO Fukuoka Center using the know-how of TMBS. The project is based on the idea that establishing a model enabling persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities to work with peace-of-mind would help promote the employment of such persons in other Group companies. Together with TMBS we decided applicable jobs and employment standards in pursuing recruitment activities while all people involved in the project started by learning about intellectual and developmental disabilities. We explained the characteristics of disabilities and the significance of the project to employees of the TMO Fukuoka Center to give a greater shared awareness of the concept "working together."
While setting up infrastructure inside the company, I also attained certification as a vocational life counselor for persons with disabilities along with employees who were to be supervisors. Following interviews, training and a three-month trial period handled in conjunction with TMBS and local government support organizations, we employed five people at TMBS, who have started work.
- Q Has anything changed in the workplace by working alongside persons with disabilities?
Yamada: Employees with disabilities go around each floor of the Tokio Marine Nichido Building to collect documents for disposal, which has led to interaction with Tokio Marine & Nichido staff. Some employees have stated that seeing them do their rounds and greeting everyone with enthusiasm has invoked a feeling of kindness in the office. This is what diversity is truly about.
Chineke: They are so focused on what they are doing and are such hard workers. There are a lot of things we can learn from them as well. Doing work on the same floor as other employees promotes the idea of accepting diversity and it has further increased a feeling of compassion toward others.
- Q Can you tell us what impressed you the most working on the employment project for persons with disabilities?
Yamada: In the past, employees with disabilities had a one-year contract at our company. This, however, would cause concern for the persons and their families as to whether the contract would be extended the following year or not. Therefore, we introduced a system of employment with an indefinite term in April 2014 for employees with more than three years of continuous service. When I explained this system to persons with disabilities and their families as well as staff from related job assistance agencies, a number of parents expressed their sincere appreciation.
Chineke: As a parent with two children, I can totally understand their feelings of gratitude. That's why I really want to see this collaborative project succeed. I was truly happy when those five people were officially employed as company personnel.
- Q Tell us about future challenges and initiatives.
Yamada: I believe that persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities can provide a great strength for the company. As an example, people with autism have incredible powers of concentration. There is no way I would be able to maintain such concentration for six hours every day. They are also great at helping us do our work and are a real plus from a corporate management standpoint. I hope to create an environment in which we employ more and more persons with disabilities and enable further integration with other employees to ensure that they continue working for a long time.
Chineke: One challenge in employing persons with disabilities concerns the creation of jobs. I would like to see us develop jobs that they can handle at the different companies of the Group so that they can continue working for many years to come. I hope the latest collaborative project serves as a springboard for broadening the range of employment on a groupwide basis.